Sunday, January 17, 2010

80 year old Saudi marries 11 year old girl

"Save me. I don't want him", an 11 year old girl cries. But in Saudi Arabia young girls are property and they can be disposed of at father's whim.

First published in Al Arabiya:

News of a Saudi octogenarian marrying an eleven-year-old girl has outraged human rights activists amid calls on the government to regulate the marriage of underage girls, local media reported Saturday.

The Saudi National Human Rights Commission formed a committee to investigate the marriage, which activists consider a flagrant violation of human and children rights, the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh said.The father, who took 85,000 riyals (more than $22,000) in dowry, defended his decision to marry off his 11-year-old daughter even though his wife vehemently objected."I don't care about her age," he told the paper. "Her health and her body build make her fit for marriage. I also don't care what her mother thinks."

The father added that marriage at such an early age has been a custom in the Saudi society for a very long time and that he saw no reason why it should be a problem now."This is a very old custom and there is nothing wrong with it whether religiously or socially." On the other hand, the groom said that the father, who is also his cousin, was the one who offered him his daughter and that the mother was totally against the marriage."He told me 'I have a girl and she will marry no one but you,'" the groom told the paper. "So, we got the witnesses and summoned the registrar. I paid the dowry and we held the ceremony and that was it. "

The groom expressed his surprise at how the media leveled harsh criticism against him and his family for marrying the girl."It is very simple. We didn’t do anything wrong. It is a valid contract that meets all the conditions for marriage? What's the point of all this fuss?"

The groom has three other wives, all much younger, and they all have kids. As for the bride, she just called for help as she burst into tears."Save me. I don't want him," she cried.

1 comment:

  1. Follow up:

    A Buraidah girl, 12, sent shockwaves through the courthouse here when she said that she accepted her marriage to an 80-year-old man because she wanted to obey the wishes of her father.

    The marriage has caused a great deal of controversy in the Kingdom and resulted in widespread condemnation from local and international human rights activists. The elderly man paid SR85,000 dowry which the father claims he is holding for his daughter.

    The decision surprised Ibrahim Al-Amr, the judge of the General Court in Buraidah on Monday. Al-Amr was expected to issue a verdict in the matter when the girl made the announcement.

    During the court session, she said: “The marriage took place with my consent and I accept him as my husband in obedience to my father.”

    The child’s statement was not the only surprise of the day. The girl’s divorced mother also dropped a bombshell by withdrawing the lawsuit she had filed to annul her daughter’s marriage to the 80-year-old man.

    The girl’s mother has now added a condition to the marriage, that her daughter must be allowed to complete her education and that her former husband should drop previous cases he had filed against her. Also, she stipulated that she be given custody over her son.