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Video That Took Internet By Storm: Is The 11-Y/Old

Video That Took Internet By Storm: Is The 11-Y/Old "Escaped Child Bride" Telling The Whole Truth?

Millions of YouTube viewers were shocked by the harrowing video of an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who claimed she ran away to escape an arranged marriage. But questions are now being raised about the authenticity of the claims by Nada al-Ahdal, who claimed she was only saved from the forced engagement after her uncle intervened. Yemen's leading children’s rights group Seyaj now believes portions of the girl’s story were made up, and her parents have been keen to stress that they never wished to marry her off.

Video That Took Internet By Storm: Is The 11-Y/Old "Escaped Child Bride" Telling The Whole Truth?

But in a crunch meeting that saw Nada face her parents, the girl tearfully asked a mediator, Yemen Women's Union president Ramzia Al-Eryani: 'Why do you believe them and don't believe me?'

In the dialogue captured on CNN cameras, Ms Al-Eryani said: 'We need to protect this child. I don't care about what's best for the mum or dad or uncle, just what's best for the girl.'

Following the meeting, which saw Nada and her uncle maintain that her story was definitely true, an agreement was fixed that means Nada, her parents and uncle are going to move in together.

Ms Al-Eryani had been appointed Nada's temporary legal guardian until the dispute was settled. Ahmad Algorashi, president of Seyaj, had said on Saturday that his organisation did not believe Nada's parents tried to force her into marriage - a view shared by the Yemen Women's Union.

The drama follows the release of the video, dated July 8 and filmed by one of the girl's friends, which saw Nada tell the camera: 'Go ahead and marry me off - I'll kill myself.

'Don't they have any compassion? I'm better off dead. I'd rather die.

'It’s not [the kids'] fault. I'm not the only one. It can happen to any child.'

'Some children decided to throw themselves into the sea, they're dead now. They have killed our dreams, they have killed everything inside us. There's nothing left. There is no upbringing. This is criminal, this is simply criminal.'

In the video filmed in a car, she explained why she does not want to leave her family home, saying: 'I would have had no life, no education’.

'I ran away from marriage,' she told CNN in an interview after the video had been viewed millions of times. 'I ran away from ignorance. I ran away from being bought and sold.'

The schoolgirl, one of eight children, was taken in by her uncle Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, when she was aged three.

But it is claimed that when a Yemeni expatriate living in Saudi Arabia asked her parents if he could marry her, they were said to have readily agreed.

Whether Nada's claims are true or not, the practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen.

It has drawn the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages. Yemen's gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars for their daughters.

More than a quarter of Yemen's females marry before the age of 15, according to a report in 2010 by the Social Affairs Ministry. Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

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