Friday, 1 May 2009

Quick hit: Forced to marry at 8 years old

Found on the Herald site, from Associated Press:
An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about US$13,000, her lawyer said.

...There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman's consent is legally required, some marriage officials don't seek it.

But there has been a push by Saudi human rights groups to define the age of marriage and put an end to the phenomenon.

One Saudi human rights activist Sohaila Zain al-Abdeen was optimistic that the girl's divorce would help efforts to get a law passed enforcing a minimum marriage age of 18.

"Unfortunately, some fathers trade their daughters," she said. "They are weak people who are sometimes in need of money and forget their roles as parents."

It was not clear if the man received money for the divorce settlement. The man had given the girl's father 50,000 riyals, or about $13,350, as a marriage gift in return for his daughter, the lawyer said.

... Saudi Arabia's conservative Muslim clergy have opposed the drive to end child marriages. In January, the kingdom's most senior cleric said it was permissible for 10-year-old girls to marry and those who believe they are too young are doing the girls an injustice.
Click through for the whole article.

It's worth noting that boys are also married off at such young ages, although I get the impression it's not as common?

And I don't want this to turn into a Muslim-bashing thread, as it's clear that this is the position of a particularly conservative brand of that religion in one country.

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