I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced


I am Nujoom, Aged 10 and Divorced
     I am Nojoom, Aged 10 and Divorced

The movie by Khadija al-Salami is based on the book I am Nojood, Aged 10 and Divorced, written by Nujood Ali & Delphine Minoui.

This is a true story about a young girl in Yemen who is married off to a man 3 times her age by her parents, who then gets subsequently raped by her husband before coming off age and how she seeks the help of local lawyers to divorce him.

Child marriages are still prevalent in rural areas of the Middle East, India and other developing nations. Although illegal in these countries, its confines are within the ‘cultural jurisdiction’ lead by the ‘head of the village’. These ‘cultural jurisdictions’ deem child marriages acceptable and a must to 1) protect one’s daughter from potential rape and molestation giving her the ‘protection’ of a husband or 2) to ‘receive’ a dowry if the girl’s family has fallen on bad times or 3) to lessen the financial burden on a family sooner than later. The latter two depending on the country and its customs.

I watched ‘I am Nojoom… ‘at the Asian Film Festival Premier last week at the Regents Cinema in London with two of my friends and was privileged to participate in the Q and A with the director Khadija al-Salami after the screening.

Scenes from the movie made us emotional and others made us sick in the stomach. This does have a happy and encouraging ending. Nojoom meets a very helpful lawyer whose wife takes her in after some hesitation that her own daughter would be in the company of another girl who has ‘had sex’. Once she met Nojoom she melted sErving that she was just a child.

The interrogation that followed in court of the father and husband left one baffled at the level of ignorance in these villages where they could not see how they were committing a crime and how it was a father’s right to ‘protect’ his daughter by getting her married especially when he needed money. The husband didn’t understand why he was imprisoned for ‘legally’ having sex with his wife.  In their minds they honestly could not see how they were harming her.

This is pure testament that in this day there is still so much education and awareness required in many parts of the world.

The happy ending is that Nojoom wins and gets divorced and progresses to get an education and be ‘free’.

During the Q & A Khadija explained how she fought in a bid for the rights to the script against a French director as no one could do better justice to this story than her as not only was she from Yemen but Khadija herself was an abused child bride who rebelled and broke free, got an education and was here today as a film director.

She was asked about any obstacles that she faced during the funding stage, casting and filming of the movie and she related some really fascinating experiences that would have made anyone quit the project  but her determination was so strong that 4 years later she had a successfully completed project.

I just had to ask her about herself. We now know Nujood/Nojoom/Nojood’s story but I wanted to know hers. How did she break away from her marriage and how did she become who she is today.

Khadija al-Salami
      Khadija al-Salami

She escaped from her family and community at age 11 and went to school while simultaneously working at a local tv studio.  She received a scholarship at age 16 to complete high school in America.   She then went to Mount Vernon College for Women in Washington D.C. And is the first Yemeni female movie director.  She ended saying that ‘anything is possible’ with a huge smile on her face.

Now that’s one phenomenal woman carrying herself with such poise and grace that one would never have guessed her past.  I couldn’t hold myself back from giving her a hug and wanting some of her amazing energy.




50 Shades of Grey – My humble opinion

50 Shades of Opinions & Reservations…

Like the books, the media is all over the movie and so are the viewers, and the conservative non-viewers.

I made it through the first 2 chapters of the 1st book – 50 Shades of Grey – over a period of 3 weeks!  A mere 10 or so pages? I can’t recall, but the only pain I remember experiencing was the terrible writing, which actually turned me off from going any further. Nope, no curiosity left.

When the movie was released, I was still not curious.  I do enjoy the soundtrack however, and find Ellie Goulding’s ‘Love me like you do’ very romantic and beautiful.

Early last week, I went to a dinner and some of the girls mentioned they had watched the movie.  I expected them to get in to an uncomplimentary dialogue about it and how I should not bother wasting my time.  To my surprise they just smiled and said that it was quite nice, the lead  actors did a great job and it was definitely worth watching.  Few days later, another group of girls asked me to join them for the movie.  I hesitated as you can gather from my earlier post, I would rather catch up on sleep! Then I thought, why not?

So I braced myself for scenes I thought would be OTT, that I wouldn’t be able to watch them, and to be completely turned off as I was with the book.

Once again, to my surprise, I thought the movie was actually tastefully adapted and that Sam Taylor-Johnson – the director, brought a lot of dignity in to the characters – Christian Grey (HOT Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) – and directed the script very well.  Christian Grey very clearly explains why ‘he was that way’ owing it to being orphaned at the age of 4 and then continuously being sexually abused by his mother’s friend at the age of 15.  But you don’t get the feeling of an obnoxious, power-hungry man who enjoys being the ‘dominant’ in an S & M relationship, instead, you see that he starts to feel uncomfortable in his own skin and he softens up when he is with Anastasia Steele.  Anastasia, a young and innocent virgin, curious and enamoured by this beautiful man, tries to take it as far as she can, in the process of discovering herself and experiencing all kinds of pleasures and found her limits after consenting to  being the ‘submissive’ and challenging Grey to ‘punish’ her.  She was aware of the shame she felt as a result and was able to draw the line.

As I said, I did not read the rest of the books, and hence, am naive myself as to where this is going, butI have to say, I was impressed with Anastasia’s journey in this first part and her strength to walk away.  I am also impressed at how Sam Taylor-Johnson created something nice from all the badly written smut and soft-porn described in the book.  Well done to all 3 – Taylor-Johnson, Dornan and Johnson for carrying this through so well.

Prior to watching the movie, I read some of the circulated letters written to daughters by the mothers who watched the film.  I totally agree that a woman should never feel ‘submissive’ in any way to anyone, especially in a sexual relationship. I wouldn’t encourage every girl to test the limits as far as Anastasia does in the book/movie.  I would like to think that it’s all good in fiction and fantasy, and that reality is a whole different game.

It is important that she (a woman) understands what it entails to be in such a relationship and that she first needs to love & respect herself before engaging in one.