Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Saudi girl, 12, accepts her marriage to an 80-year-old man

I am speechless and have to borrow this entry from another blogger:-

A little girl was raped here in Saudi. She was 12. Her rapist was 80.

It’s a terribly sad story.

It’s a story that just keeps getting sadder.

The little girl had been sold to her rapist by her father. The two of them – the father and the rapist – called the sale a marriage and, since here in Saudi a man can – and does – treat his wife any way he chooses – including forcing her to have sex with him against her wishes, there surely will be no charges brought against the rapist.

Thanks to the little girl’s mother, the story made headlines, and before long – as occcasionally happens here – word got out about this little girl who’d been married off and raped by an 80 year old man.

In a place where appearance is everything, and where form nearly always wins out over substance, having others – especially outsiders – think your country allows this sort of thing – you know, fathers selling little girls to old men, old men raping little girls, clerics announcing that girls as young as six are totally ok with getting married – well, having people think that about you – even when it is true – just isn’t acceptable.
Shock as girl, 12, accepts aged husband
By Majed Al-Marshad
BURAIDAH – 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.

Sources said mediation is taking place between representatives of the girl’s father and mother to settle the case amicably.

Judicial sources have confirmed that the girl’s father has asked the judge to withdraw her case. The mother would also withdraw the case she filed at the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) opposing the marriage, according to the sources.

Questions are now being asked about the dramatic change in the course of the matter. Saleh Al-Dubaibi, a lawyer who has been hired by the Mawaddah Charitable Society, said that the mother had not informed him personally that she had dropped her case. She had also not notified the NSHR either.

“Mediation is going on now between the girl’s divorced father and mother aiming to contain the matter and prevent it from being given too much attention in the media, as it has become a public opinion case.”
The lawyer said there should be laws preventing marriage of underage girls to old men because it is the children who become the victims.

“There are people who are trying to exploit public opinion to achieve personal goals,” stressing that the case “necessitates enacting laws that curb marriage of underage girls.” He said the girl was still a child even though she appeared to be physically mature. As she was still a child, she could be influenced easily, he said.

“She is the age of his great grandchildren,” he said.

The marriage was solemnized in September 2009 and the wedding ceremony took place a few weeks ago.

Saudi Arabia has no laws preventing underage marriages. Plans are under way to prevent this from happening with a law that will raise the age of marriage of girls to between 16 and 18 years. – Okaz/SG

12-year-old bride to testify, court delays verdict
By Majed Al-Marshad and Solieman Al-Nahabi
BURAIDA – A court here has delayed its verdict into the marriage of an 80-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl until next Monday, so that it can first hear testimony from the bride.

Judge Ibrahim Al-Omar had earlier listened to the arguments of the child’s lawyer Saleh Al-Dabibi, who was hired by the Muwada Charity Organization headed by Princess Sara Bint Musa’ed Bin Abdul Aziz.

Al-Dabibi called for an immediate divorce between the two and for punishment to be meted out to the child’s father and the 80-year-old husband.

“This marriage does not meet the conditions of legal consent of the bride,” he said. He called for the courts to remove the father as the legal guardian of the daughter as per Islamic rulings in these types of cases.

Al-Dabibi argued that the mother of the child should have full guardianship.

The lawyer based his case, for the annulment of the marriage, on verses from the Qur’an, arguing for the fulfillment of Islamic legal conditions for the marriage, including a wise and more conscious guardian.

The case has become of public interest, Al-Dabibi said.

During the hearing, the father said that he did not make use of his daughter’s SR85,000 dowry. “It has gone into a savings account for her,” he said.

The marriage contract of the child was signed in Ramadan, last September, and the wedding ceremony was held a few weeks ago.

The mother, who is separated from the father, said she was not consulted about the marriage.

The father had simply reported the news to her after the marriage had taken place, she said.

“I told him I would not accept it now because she was still too young, but he did not listen to me,” she said.

The 80-year-old husband said that his child bride had agreed to the marriage and “wasn’t forced into it”. The man, who is a nomad, said that he invited the mother to attend the wedding, but she did not come. The man has married three times before.

Monday’s hearing was attended by the Human Rights Commission’s head Bandar Al-Aiban.
“The mother of the Buraidah girl asked for our help, to help her daughter get a divorce,” Al-Aiban said.

“Child marriages are rare in the Qassim region,” a court official said, refusing to label it as a common practice in the region.

This is the only child marriage case being seen in Qassim’s courts, he said.

The only legislative body responsible for enacting laws against child marriages in the Kingdom is the Council of Senior Ulema (Scholars), the official said. He expected new laws against this type of marriage to be announced soon.

Al-Aiban had said in June that the government was working on new regulations to impose a minimum age for marrying that could range from 16 to 18 years.

A senior scholar, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie, recently said that the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a nine-year-old girl some 14 centuries ago cannot be used to justify child marriages today.

Al-Manie said that circumstances were different today from when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married young Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her.
Lady Aisha’s marriage “cannot be equated with child marriages today because the conditions and circumstances are not the same,” Al-Manie said. - Okaz/SG

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