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11-Year-Old Yemeni Girl Speaks, Internet Listens

On Sunday morning, Reddit user Syd_G submitted a three-minute YouTube clip of 11-year-old Nada Al-Ahdal describing why she was running away from home to live with her uncle. According to a translation provided by subtitles (and more or less confirmed by several Reddit users), she starts off by saying:

It's true that I ran away from my family. I can't live with them anymore. Enough. I want to go live with my uncle. What about the innocence of childhood? What have the children done wrong? Why do you marry them off like that?

Four hours later, the video had been upvoted nearly 4,700 times (unusually high for Reddit) and began circulating in news stories across the world.

Details on the child's story are still unclear but her three-minute monologue on child marriage in Yemen is receiving rave reviews, and it's not hard to understand why: she speaks with excellent articulation and passion, and her eyes force the viewer not to break away from the screen.

Even if this was scripted as some have suggested, she is remarkably poised in describing her harrowing situation:

"I have managed to solve my problem, but some innocent children can't solve theirs, and they might die, commit suicide, or do whatever comes to mind."

Yemeni law holds that girls of any age are allowed to wed, and because of that, 52 percent of girls in Yemen are wed before the age of 18. However, the law also states that intercourse is prohibited until the child has reached puberty, a law that is ignored by many.

How generous of them.

In 2009, 10 year-old Nujood Ali successfully divorced after she was raped before the onset of puberty. Her case spurred action by the Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood, who proposed an age limit of 18 be set for marriage, which was knocked down to 17 when passed into law, and unfortunately, struck down the following day by parliamentary measures.

About Yemen, Sophie Ghaziri of Al Arabiya wrote in April, "Driven by poverty and a "traditional" way of thinking, girls under the age of eight can be seen in wedlock with children of their own by the time they hit puberty."

As Nada Al-Ahdal points out in her video, "There are many cases like that. Some children decided to throw themselves into the sea. They're dead, now."

This has long been a problem. Ghaziri highlights in her column that one in nine girls in the developing world will become child brides.

We can only hope that Nada's words will spur greater action by world leaders to halt the horrifying practice of child marriage and the human trafficking epidemic that feeds it.