Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Marriage of Pre-Teen, Old Fart Still a Go

From Arab News:
RIYADH: A 12-year-old girl who was married off to an 80-year-old man in Buraidah has dropped her request for a divorce just one day before a court hearing to annul the marriage.
A source at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) said the girl, her mother and legal representative came to court and withdrew the request.

The girl failed to appear in court on Monday when the hearing was originally supposed to be heard. Her legal representative did not provide a valid reason for her absence.

The HRC, which had formed a committee to investigate the marriage, was stunned that the girl had dropped her request. “No one really knows the real reason behind the change of heart,” said the source, adding that although the HRC cannot interfere in people’s personal lives, it would continue lobbying for a minimum marriage age.

The case has attracted a lot of interest. The girl’s father married her off to his 80-year-old cousin in exchange of SR85,000 in dowry money. However, the girl’s mother, who is separated from her father, accused the man of raping her daughter.

The girl had also told a local journalist over the phone that she “doesn’t want him, save me.” When the mother’s lawyer failed to get the marriage annulled, she brought the case to the attention of the Kingdom’s media.

Saudi Arabia has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as any person under the age of 18. Article 16.2 of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Saudi Arabia is a signatory of, states that “the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.”

The Kingdom, which ratified the convention in September 2000, did so with the stated reservation that “in case of contradiction between any term of the Convention and the norms of Islamic law, the Kingdom is not under obligation to observe the contradictory terms of the Convention.”

The girl’s father and the registrar who conducted the marriage said they went ahead with the marriage, as there is no law prohibiting it. The father also claimed he based his judgment on the child’s physical development and not her age.

On his part, the groom said he had not done anything wrong and that “the contract is valid and meets all marriage conditions.”
I don't know what the big deal is. After all, Islam's founder, the quintessence of perfection whom Muslims are ordered to emulate, got hitched to a child bride, too. (In case you want to buy the Wahhabi couple a wedding gift, I hear they're registered at La Senza Girl and Incontinence Supplies R Us.)

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