Amina is a poignant true story of a Yemeni girl, who is sentenced to prison for having allegedly murdered her husband.
Marita Waenerberg, photo
Katriina Kansanniva, translation
The Parliament of Yemen recently decided that a person younger than 17 is not allowed to get married. Numerous girls have so far been subjected to the horrors of child marriage.
– Our country has taken a great step forward, says the Yemeni film director Khadija Al-Salami.
When Khadija was 11 years old, her parents married her to a man 20 years her senior.
The director Khadija Al-Salami was forced into marriage at the age of eleven.
– My parents wanted to protect me. They did not understand that it would break me. They thought that a girl's only job is to get married and have children.
The marriage lasted only three weeks, because the man raped Khadija.
– According to rules, girls should not be touched during the first 4-5 years, but the reality is quite the opposite. I hated my husband from the beginning.
Khadija separated from her husband and, at 11, got the job of a broadcaster of children's programmes at a local TV station. She attended school at the same time.
Soon she was granted a scholarship to the United States. Later she got married with an American. Nowadays she works at the Yemeni embassy in Paris and makes films.
Khadija feels lucky because she had the chance to attend school in the city, unlike many women living in the countryside.
– Education is a woman's only road to liberty. It is easy to abuse ignorant people.
Amina is a true story of a Yemeni female prisoner, who is accused of the murder of her husband.
– I identified with Amina's story, because she was forced into marriage at 11, just like me. She was only 15 when her husband died. Having listened to her story, I started to believe in her innocence, the director explains.
Amina was saved from death penalty by Khadija. The President of Yemen granted permission to re-examine the case, and Amina was finally released against blood money.
The real murderer was sentenced to death, but the man's family would not leave the girl in peace. Khadija took Amina and her son to another Arabic country.
In the documentary Amina swears that she won't get married again, because in her opinion marriage is just another prison.
– Now Amina is 26 years old and, from what I've heard, in love with another man, Khadija says and laughs.
Many women sit in the Yemeni women's prison because they have run away from their violent husbands. A Yemeni TV-channel first banned the film, but it became the most viewed one.
– Yemen is a dear country to me, but I have to make a point of our society's ills. Now my family respects me, and women in my family admire my courage. Because of all the difficulties I can appreciate life.
Updated 10 March 2009 15:21