Thursday, August 28, 2008

Child Marriages - Part II

Further to another post - Child Marriages -

From The Australian:
"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 today.

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

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."

From Sun Star:
"They have been widely denounced by activists, clerics and others who say such unions are harmful to the children and trivialize the institution of marriage.

Saudi Arabia is already rocked by a high divorce rate that has jumped from 25 percent to 60 percent over the past 20 years, according to Noura al-Shamlan, head of the research department at the Center of University Studies for Girls."

From Arab News:
"THE grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, in recent press statements, has rightly warned parents against marrying their young daughters to men who are older than them by 50 and 60 years or more. He described such practices as an indication of lack of conscience on the part of the parents. He also said such marriages will not protect the chastity of the girls and may drive them toward sinful acts. The mufti stressed that the young girl will be living in agony while her parents enjoy the comforts her dowry can buy them.

WE have heard about a father who married his 10-year-old girl to a man in his 70s for a dowry of SR150,000. The Human Rights Commission (HRC) intervened and delayed the marriage for five years. Just imagine the situation of a desperate child considered to be a married woman and the old man demanding his conjugal rights. This will definitely rob the girl of her innocence. When the consummation of marriage takes place five years later, she will be just 15 while her husband will be in his 80s! Fathers like these consider their daughters to be slaves selling them to the highest bidder. Or they compel them to marry their relatives or men from their tribe.

The grand mufti has clearly stated his position on these types of marriages. What remains now is the cooperation of all concerned agencies to put a halt to such abuses. As most of the cases take place in remote villages where there is poverty and illiteracy, we need to launch a campaign to make people aware of the social and moral implications of such marriages. The mother should not hesitate to inform the police if the father insists on marrying his child to an old man. The officials who write the marriage contracts should alert the HRC to such practices so that they step in to stop it in time. It will be good if we decide a certain age for marriage."

And again, from Arab News:
"The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called on government agencies to take necessary steps to end the practice of child marriages by adopting a clear and unambiguous position on such weddings.

The condemnation comes in the wake of several cases across the Kingdom in which young girls have been married to elderly men, mainly for monetary reasons such as the settlement of debts or to receive generous dowries.

“Such marriages violate human rights by depriving a girl of her childhood,” said Turki Al-Sudairy, president of the Human Rights Commission. He added that such weddings are prohibited by a number of international conventions and by reputed global organizations concerned with children’s rights.

Dr. Ayman Abu Laban, UNICEF representative in the Gulf, said his organization strongly discourages child marriages, which inflict serious psychological and physical risks on young girls."

Arab News Editorial - Girls as Commodities

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