Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saudi man in his 50s marries an 8-year old

....and says he has done nothing illegal!

First Published: August 25, 2008

RIYADH: A Saudi court will next month hear a plea for divorce from an eight-year-old girl married off by her father to a man in his fifties, the Arabic-language daily Al-Watan reported on Sunday.

It said the girl's mother had filed the divorce case with the court at Unayzah 220 kilometres north of Riyadh, and cited lawyer Abdullah Jtili as saying the father had arranged the marriage without telling the girl.

"She doesn't know yet that she has been married," added Jtili of the girl who is about to begin her fourth year at primary school.

Al-Watan said relatives of the girl had told a Saudi rights group of her plight and urged it to intervene to have the marriage annulled.

But the daily also reported that the husband had refused to renounce the marriage, saying that he had not done anything illegal.

Arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents are occasionally reported in the Arabian Peninsula, including in the ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom where the strict conservative Wahabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and polygamy is common.

In Yemen in April, another girl aged eight was granted a divorce after her unemployed father forced her to marry a man of 28. –AFP


razanghazzawi.com said...

morning dear Phillip,
i really get pissed when i hear these stories, but allow me to share with you a quick note:

i think we should be careful with using the term "arranged marriages" in such contexts,this is a "forced marriage", not "arranged", in this region, what we mean by "arranged marriages" is that when a man seeks a womun when there is no previous relationship between the two, and this is a normal form of marriages in "conservative" communities. these as well have problems, but different forms of problems.
but you do have many girls get married with their content in these marriages.

but here there is no arrangement whatsoever between the families or the yet-to-be married couple, the father is basically forcing his child to marry a 7ayawan.

but that's when foreign reporters and news agencies "report" a region: they dont know what they're talking about, and use the same terms on whatever context.

Philip I said...

Thank you Razan for your note and clarification. I agree this one is a forced marriage and probably more like a business deal between two middle-aged men (and the law seems to protect them both!).

No doubt someone is going to remind us that the Prophet Muhammad, who was over 50 at the time, got engaged to a 6-year old girl (Aisha), married her at the age of 9 and consummated the marriage at the age of 13 or 14. If you study human history, you will find that these sorts of marriages had taken place thousands of years earlier and have done so over several centuries since throughout the world, including Europe.

We now live in a more enlightened age that understands much better human development and physchology within a wide range of religious, cultural and economic contexts.

There is absolutely no excuse for any society in the 21 century to allow the abuse of children. If the Saudi court does not annul this marriage then the country can add legalised pedophilia to its list of proud achievements.