A handful of issues of popped up which draw attention to Saudi Arabia’s laws and approach(es) to marriage.
The one attracting most attention was the refusal of a Saudi court in Onaiza to permit an eight-year-old girl to divorce her 47-year-old husband. The case, which had been remanded to the court by an appeals court for reconsideration, reached the same result. Also similar are the reactions, both foreign and domestic, over the verdict.
(CNN) — A Saudi judge has refused for a second time to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, a relative of the girl told CNN.
The most recent ruling, in which the judge upheld his original verdict, was handed down Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza, where late last year the same judge rejected a petition from the girl’s mother, who was seeking a divorce for her daughter.
The relative said the judge, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, “stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty.” The family member, who requested anonymity, added that the mother will continue to pursue a divorce for her daughter.
Saudi Gazette/Okaz reported on the case as well. Commenters find the verdict to be un-Islamic:
Onaiza girl’s divorce put off
ONAIZA – A court here has upheld its earlier verdict in the case of the marriage of underage girl to an elderly man.
The earlier verdict by Judge Habib Abdullah Al-Habib stipulated that the girl must reach the age of puberty before determining whether she would continue her marriage solemnized in June 2007.
The judge tried to convince the girl’s husband to nullify the marriage contract in lieu of returning the dowry he paid, but he refused.
The papers note that the appeals court is going to get involved again, but this time putting the case in the hands of another judge.
The Arabic daily Al-Watan runs a piece (here translated by Arab News) about how it is a scandal that fathers are, in effect, selling their daughters. Perhaps even worse—because more widespread—are fathers refusing their daughters the right to marry because the fathers have become dependent on their daughters’ incomes. Often, the father’s will insist that even though a daughter marries, her income will stay with him.
Hearts made of stone
Qenan Al-Ghamdi | Al-Watan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Judge Khalifa Al-Tamimi of the General Court in the city of Onaizah in the central province of Qassim recently allowed two young Saudi women to marry — one a Saudi man and the other a foreigner. He took the action after their guardians refused to allow them to marry. The lawyer for the two girls, Mansour Al-Jitaili, said the two girls were facing spinsterhood because their fathers had prevented them from marrying. He attributed the fathers’ attitude to “greed and avarice.”
The lawyer urged all preachers and imams of mosques to explain the dangers of preventing girls from getting married. He said these people are doing a grave injustice to their daughters and are depriving them of their dignity.
I thought about the “greed and avarice” spoken of by the lawyer and understood it as taking the girls’ salaries. The girls may have been employed, whether as teachers or in other jobs I do not know. A father often finds in his daughter a source of income that he is loath to relinquish. He looks at his daughter as one of his personal assets, which he can use as he wishes.
Clearly, something has gone very wrong in the Kingdom. Codification of law, putting it into black and white, will help avoid the bizarre and barbaric verdicts we’re seeing come from certain courts.