Law Hall of Fame logoWealthy lawyers in downtown Vancouver brag of their pro bono hours while barristers in London sign each other's community spirit award applications; all to be unveiled in a grand gala with Lord so-and-so present.

But a woman and a lawyer, Shada Nasser is the best of the best. Born in 1964, her career is real, sincere and on the front lines. This female lawyer risks her life by tip-toeing through the Muslim and male-dominated Yemen, that sandy strip of land at the Southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Yemen, with a puppet government subservient to the president, aka dictator, Ali Abdallah Salih (since 1990). Yemen - home to several terrorist groups including Al Queda. In 1973, Shada Nasser's father was killed when the plane he was traveling in was bombed. Nasser moved to Prague (then part of Czechoslovakia), where she studied law at the Faculty of law of Charles University at Prague (Universitas Carolina
Pragensis
), graduating in 1990.

Shada NasserAccording to Glamour Magazine:

"When the 44-year-old (Ms Nasser) started her career in the 1990s, her's was the first female law office in (the capital city of) Sana’a."

Joshua Hersh adds:

"In 1989, as Yemen was approaching unification, (Shada Nasser) returned to Sanaa to work as a lawyer. At the time, there were no other female lawyers in Sanaa. 'I broke the rules in the North,' she said. A couple of years later, she helped establish the first all-female law office in Yemen, and dedicated herself to defending the rights of women."

Nasser, who risks her life every day she has to grovel for basic legal rights in this orthodox Muslim law jurisdiction, came to international prominence when she stepped forward and espoused the cause of 10-year old Nujood Ali. The little girl had fumbled into a Sana's courthouse, waited to speak to a judge and asked for a divorce. The year before, her father had sold her into marriage to a 30-year old Faez Ali Thamer, who would be branded a pedophile in any free and democratic state. Ali-Thamer raped and beat the infant repeatedly. One day, Nujood, who had squirreled away some money, hailed a taxi and managed to find the courthouse. A friendly judge and Shada Nasser later and a historic divorce was granted.

When Nasser asked her child-client why she wanted a divorce, Nujood said '“I hate the night.” Nasser understood immediately.

For her efforts, both Nujood and Nasser were honoured at Carnegie Hall in New York City by Glamour Magazine as women of the year, the relative candidatures of Nicole Kidman and Tyra Banks paling besides the legitimacy of Nujood and Nasser. Clinton knew it. She said:

"Few have fought as hard for (justice) as ... Shada Nasser."

Born in 1964, Nasser refuses to cover her face even when she is in Court. She is married to another lawyer, now turned-journalist Mohamed Al-Saqqaf.

In 2005, before Nujood, Nasser reached out to Amina al-Abduladif, a Yemeni woman accused and convicted of killing her husband at 16! She was sentenced in 1999 to death by firing squad. When she claimed she was raped by a prison guard and was not believed ... until she was tested positive on a pregnancy test - she later had a son while still in prison. Nasser got Amina a reprieve. At the time of her husband's death, Amina was 14 and she had already given birth to two children playing her age at the time of her wedding at 11 or 12.

Shortly after the Nujood case concluded, Shada Nasser had two new divorce clients, Arwa, married at 9, and Rym (aka "Reem"), married at 12.

“This is my job," she told the New Yorker. "My job is very difficult. But this is how I am, and I’ll be like this forever.”

Thank God ... with maybe a little wink at Allah but just a wink as according to Muslim scripture, Allah directed his prophet Mohammed to marry Aisha when she was only 8 year old.

Nasser's policy, as she related to the Yemen Times:

"I wish for Yemenis to take more care of their children because they are the wealth of our country."

REFERENCES:

  • Ali, Nujood, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2010).
  • Hersh, Joshua, "A Ten-Year Old Divorce Lawyer", the New Yorker Magazine, March 4, 2010
  • McGrory, Daniel, "Mother's Life is Spared as Leader Heeds Foreign Pleas", The Times Newspaper, May 3, 2005
  • Power, Carla, "Women of the Year 2008", Glamour Magazine
  • Yemen Times, "YT Person of the Year 2008", Shada Nasser, May 1, 2008