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SAUDI ARABIA: Court refuses to nix 8-year-old's marriage to 60-year-old


The latest clash in the struggle between Saudi Arabia's religious hardliners and reformists erupted this week when a court refused for the second time to annul a widely publicized marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a man of 60. 

The case has been brought by the girl’s mother, who accused the child’s father of selling her to pay off his debts. 

Saudi Justice Minister Mohammad Issa went on to tell the Saudi Daily Al Watan that the ministry of justice was seeking to “regulate” marriages of young girls but gave no indication the practice would be stopped. 

The story was later picked up by the BBC and other Western media outlets, prompting rare public criticism by the United States, which called the case a "clear and unacceptable violation of human rights.” 

The backlash was not limited to the Western press, however. Commentators on Al Watan’s website also expressed their outrage over Issa's comments. 

“Why regulation?” wrote Tariq Nasser. “Why isn’t the headline: marriage to minors outlawed?” 

The issue of child brides has been raised more frequently in the past few years by a number of religious, political and activist organizations, including the Saudi Human Rights Commission, which worked with the ministry of health to prepare a report on the subject that was released in February. 

The commission has "stated more than once that such marriages violate international agreements concerning children,” HRC spokesman Zuhair Al-Harithy told Arab News in January, referring to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a signatory. 

Harithy’s remarks came in response to a speech made early this year by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Asheikh, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, in which he defended the practice of marrying girls over “10 or 12.” 

Other clerics have come out against marriage to young girls. 

Muhammad Nujaimi, a member of the official Islamic Jurisprudence Society, has repeatedly demanded a ban on forced and underage marriage, arguing that a legal Islamic marriage requires the bride’s consent, which can only be given by a psychologically mature adult. 

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Saudi women attend a festival in Riyadh. Credit: Hassan Ammar / AFP / Getty Images
Comments () | Archives (8)

We live in a different world than the 7th Century and we adapt the pratices, and teachings of each of our religions to live harmoniously with other religions and cultures. We cannot condemn the practices of many centuries, but we can understand their significance in our times. Children might have been labeled adults very early in the past, but the clerics must understand that is no longer the case.
I personally cannot accept that a child can be sold in marriage to pay off a debt and that the 60 year old accepted this bargain is even more disturbing.
The Prophet (pbuh) was an example, role model for us all and we follow his guidance but we need to differentiate in such matters as they involve an evolved world. Women and Girls have many rights in Islam and if the clerics have dismissed that then we have to open their eyes to the injustice and inhumanity.

As a woman, thank God I was born in America.

I don't get it. The father is the problem. How is it that you can give away your child to someone else, regardless of their age or sex to pay your debts? He is worthless. Why didn't he sell himself instead?

The Ring of Knowledge

I will second the comments in the post of WTL. In any civilized society, this is child abuse in the extreme and, if allowed to proceed, will no doubt involve child rape. But who ever accused Saudi Arabia or any uber-Muslim country of being 'civilized'. All theocracies are dysfunctional and the Saudis are among the worst. Why can't they be 'civilized', like Afghanistan that just codified spousal rape? Now, there's a real civilized country for you!

sick...sick...sick...what can you do with an 8 year old...burn in hell

Just another day in the world's worst religion - and that's saying something, given the history and practices of the major religions (a Catholic bishop excommunicating a little Brazilian girl for getting an abortion as a result of incest, Jews murdering Palestinians to take their land, Hindus murdering Muslims for being Muslim). Whatever good these religions do pales in comparison to the atrocities they continue to commit - and continue to justify in the name of god.

Exposure is a good policy...the 60 year saudi married a 8 year child and the saudi government refused to annull it.
This is dispictable as was mohammed when he also married a child. Yes exposure is a good policy, the world is awaking to the cancer that islam is upon humanity.

If the prophet mohammed did, why cant a 60yr old saudi do it? this is great exposure to islams hyprocricy.


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