at ease. In his entire career, he says, he has never seen a case like mine. They both explain to me that in Yemen girls are frequently marriedo! quite young, before the legal age of -fteen. An ancient tradition, adds Judge Abdo. But to his knowledge, none of these precociousmarriages has ever ended in divorce--because no little girl has, until now, showed up at a courthouse. A question of family honor, it seems.My situation is most exceptional, and complicated."We'll have to find a lawyer," Abdo explains, somewhat at a loss.A lawyer--but what for? Of what use is a court if it can't even grant divorces on the spot? I couldn't care less about being an exceptionalcase. Laws are for helping people, yes or no? These judges seem very nice, but do they realize that if I go home without any guarantee, myhusband will come get me and the torture will start all over again? No, I don't want to go home."I want to get divorced!"I frown fiercely to show I mean it.The sound of my own voice makes me jump. I must have raised my voice too loud--or is it these big white walls that make everythingecho?"We'll find a solution, we'll find a solution," Mohammad al-Ghazi murmurs, straightening his turban.But he has more than one cause for concern: the clock has just struck two in the afternoon, when o4ces close. Today is Wednesday, andthe Muslim weekend is about to begin. The courthouse will not reopen before Saturday. I realize that they, too, are worried about my goingback home, after what they've just heard."It's out of the question, her going home. And who knows what might happen to her if she wanders the streets alone," continuesMohammad al-Ghazi.
Abdo has an idea: Why couldn't I take refuge at his house? He still can't get over my story and is willing to do anything to tear me from thegrip of my husband. But he must quickly withdraw his o!er when he remembers that his wife and children have gone to the country for afew days, leaving him on his own. Our Islamic traditions stipulate that a woman must not be left alone with a man who is not her mahram,her close blood relative.What to do?A third judge, Abdel Wahed, -nally volunteers his help. His family is at home, and they have room to take me in. I'm saved, at least for themoment. He, too, has a mustache, but he is more stocky than Abdo. His wire-rimmed glasses make him look very serious, and he's quiteimposing in his suit. I hardly dare speak to him. But I pull myself together; it's better to overcome my shyness than to go home. And besides,what reassures me is that he seems like a real papa, who takes good care of his children. Not like mine.His big car is comfortable and perfectly clean. There is even cool air coming out of little vents, which tickles my face. It's nice. I barelyopen my mouth during the ride. I'm not sure whether it's from timidity, uneasiness, or because, -nally, I feel all right with these grown-upstaking care of me.