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YEMEN: Two years after divorce, life is looking up for Nujood Ali, now age 12

March 9, 2010 |  7:41 am
Nujood

Nujood Ali captured the world's attention in 2008 when she showed up in at a Sanaa courthouse demanding a divorce from her thirty-something husband, thrusting the 10-year-old into the spotlight as the face of child brides in Yemen.

Ali and her lawyer, Shada Nasser, were profiled extensively in the Western media and even brought to New York to receive an award from Glamour magazine. But fame took its toll on young Nujood, who in addition to being traumatized by her recent ordeal suddenly found herself a divisive symbol at the center of the debate over reform and tradition in poverty-stricken Yemen.

Two years later, things are looking up for Nujood: the bestselling book she co-wrote with French journalist Delphine Minoui was this week released in English, and the royalties are paying for her family's new home and business, as well as private school for Nujood and her little sister, Haifa.

(Full disclosure: Minoui is the wife of Times' Beirut bureau chief Borzou Daragahi.)

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Minoui, who speaks with her regularly, said Nujood is doing well at her new school, where she also receives counseling.

"She is very proud to go to school, and she has made new friends her age and they treat her like any other girl," Minoui said.

Filmmaker Katia Jarjoura recently visited Nujood and her family in Sanaa and took these photographs exclusively for The Times, which continues to receive inquiries about the girl from concerned readers.

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-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photos: Top to bottom: Nujood Ali outside her home in Sanaa; Nujood with her siblings, whom she is supporting with book royalties; Nujood with two of her siblings outside their home; Nujood and her sister, Haifa, showing off one of Nujood's drawings. Credit: Katia Jarjoura

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