I don’t think about honor often. But the concept of honor was so embedded within I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
I define honor as trust, truth and respect. I give honor to someone who I see as deserving. One who is respectful and respectable. I’m honored when I’m treated that way, or when I’m able to do something that recognizes that same respect.
Surprisingly, this common word is not easy to define. Dictionary.com offers 24 definitions.
This past weekend, I gathered with my very large, very extended family in North Carolina for my sister’s wedding. Many of us turned the affair into a mini-vacation, gathering at the pool in clusters as we caught up, together for the first time in years. As I watched family and friends interact, I realized, not for the first time, that the support and love within family superceeds that of any other group. No matter the circumstances, we always have family. Family support is there in rough times. Family support is there in happy times. Family is something we share, its a bond that joins us.
Not all families have this bond, we’re very fortunate. We’re all very different people, different religions, different political affiliations, different states to live, different parenting skills. But in our family, not atter what those circumstances that make us different, we recognize that being together is far more important. Sure, we bicker. But we’re together in our bickering.
This is honor. We honor each other’s respect and choices because we recognize our bond and respect our differences. We cherish honesty. And we can be honest because we trust our mutual honor for each other.
But honor means something very different in third-world villages like those in Yemen. Yesterday, as I read Nujood’s memoirs, I couldn’t grasp the fact that the men were more concerned with “honor” for those in their villiage, those that intimidated, cheated and, yes, beat them. It was more important for these men to honor the bullies than their daughters. To honor their reputation than those who serve them.
Honor, in this story, could be easily confused with intimidation.
Nujood, who was wed at age 10, beaten and raped by her husband, and then ran away to ask for help from her family, was turned away from her father because he had an agreement with this horrible man, promising his daughter to him. Honor was offered first to the “beast” and last to his family.
There’s no honor in that.
Unfortunately, even in the 2nd millenium, this type of “respect” — towards another that puts family second — is prevalent in uncivilized areas. Nujood’s story opens the readers eyes to an interpretation of family that likens its members to slaves.
In her story, Nujood was married via a contract at the age of 10. She was beaten. She was raped. Her mother-in-law encouraged it. Her husband saw nothing wrong. Her father looked the other way. Her mother may have weeped, silently. She was wed young to ensure safety in her home. To create a bond with another family. Possibly for a dowry.
While most children wed this young succumb to this way of life (I’m going to speculate that Nujood’s mother was also a traded childbride), Nujood was brave. She ran away. On the advice of her father’s second wife, she ran to the courthouse in their local town and requested a divorce.
And following her divorce, she honored her family by moving right back in with them. Because what else would a young child do? (She’s also trying to go to school to become a lawyer who helps children like herself.)
Nujood. She’s one to honor and respect.
Nujood’s story isn’t a rarity. Here are more:
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