Women and Girls As Property

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The source is the Daily Mail, a newspaper of somewhat dubious reliability, and I can’t find similar accounts anywhere else, but fwiw (ETA: Guardian article here):

Saudi court tells girl aged EIGHT she cannot divorce husband who is 50 years her senior

A Saudi court has rejected a plea to divorce an eight-year-old girl married off by her father to a man who is 58, saying the case should wait until the girl reaches puberty.

The divorce plea was filed in August by the girl’s divorced mother with a court at Unayzah, 135 miles north of Riyadh just after the marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.

Lawyer Abdullar Jtili said:”The judge has dismissed the plea, filed by the mother, because she does not have the right to file such a case, and ordered that the plea should be filed by the girl herself when she reaches puberty.”

“She doesn’t know yet that she has been married,” Jtili said then of the girl who was about to begin her fourth year at primary school.

Relatives who did not wish to be named said that the marriage had not yet been consummated, and that the girl continued to live with her mother.

They said that the father had set a verbal condition by which the marriage is not consummated for another 10 years, when the girl turns 18.

The father had agreed to marry off his daughter for an advance dowry of £5,000, as he was apparently facing financial problems, they said.

The father was in court and he remained adamant in favour of the marriage, they added.

Mr Jtili said he was going to appeal the verdict at the court of cassation, the supreme court in the ultra-conservative kingdom which applies Islamic Sharia law in its courts.

Arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents are occasionally reported in the
Arabian Peninsula, including in Saudi Arabia where the strict conservative Wahabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and polygamy is common.

This entry was posted in Coerced Sex, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Families, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Religion, Sisters In Other Nations. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Women and Girls As Property

  1. Morgaan23 says:

    There are multiple sources for this story. The mother, according to the shari’a courts, has NO standing with the court to demand a divorce for her daughter, despite the fact that the father has legal right to sell the girl for a brideprice that the girl never sees.

    Google Saudi Arabia + girl + divorce + mother + cannot divorce for at least 50 articles from more reliable sources, including Iranian, Turkish, Egyptian, etc.

  2. Morgaan23 says:

    BTW, this is complete garbage that “arranged marriages involve pre-adolescents re occasionally report.” They are CONSTANTLY reported, and some imams in the Kingdom say that one year old is not too young for a betrothal. This is also an ongoing problem in India where Hindu parents marry grammar school kids in elaborate ceremonies, often involving some very serious transfers of dowry that benefit only the parents, not the children.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    Morgaan23 – I googled what you said and *every link* in the first two pages linked back to the same Daily Mail article. If you’ve seen independent reporting, please drop the links to same in a comment.

  4. Morgaan23 says:


    Saudi girl, eight, married off to 58-year-old is denied divorce

    * Ian Black, Middle East editor
    * The Guardian, Tuesday 23 December 2008
    * Article history

    An eight-year old Saudi Arabian girl who was married off by her father to a 58-year-old man has been told she cannot divorce her husband until she reaches puberty.

    Lawyer Abdu Jtili said the divorce petition was filed by the unnamed girl’s divorced mother in August after the marriage contract was signed by her father and the groom. “The judge has dismissed the plea because she [the mother] does not have the right to file, and ordered that the plea should be filed by the girl herself when she reaches puberty,” lawyer Abdullah Jtili told the AFP news agency.

    The case was handled by a court in Qasim province, north of the Saudi capital Riyadh. The girl does not know she is married, said Jtili, adding that he will appeal.

    In many child marriages, girls are given away to older men in return for dowries or following the custom by which a father promises his daughters and sons to marriage while still children. But the issue is complicated by different interpretations of sharia law and a lack of legal certainty.

    “There is confusion in Saudi Arabia over the fundamental question of what constitutes adulthood,” said Clarisa Bencomo of Human Rights Watch. “There is also vast judicial discretion.” The case appears to fit a pattern of divorced fathers using their children to take revenge against their ex-wives. Mothers usually only have custody while the children are young.

    Relatives said the marriage had not been consummated and that the girl was still living with her mother. They said that the father had set a verbal condition by which the marriage was not to be consummated until the girl turns 18 – although it was unclear how this could be enforced. The father agreed to marry off his daughter for a dowry of 30,000 riyals (£5,400) as he was facing financial problems.

    Bencomo dismissed the idea that the girl would be able to file for divorce once she reached puberty since there was no standard definition of this. In addition, Saudi judges often insist that even adult women speak to them through a male guardian or lawyer.

    No figures are available for the number of arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents in Saudi Arabia, where the strictly conservative Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and polygamy is common. But human rights groups say they are aware of many such cases.

    Senior clerics, including Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s grand mufti, have denounced child marriage. But it is still prevalent in conservative areas. The Shura council recently defined adulthood as starting at age 18 but objections prevented it from being ratified as required by the council of ministers.

  5. Morgaan23 says:

    You might want to take what you can off the web. There were 60 articles online about this today, and now I can only directly access 13 of them. The Saudi consulates get busy scrubbing this stuff off the web as soon as it breaks out.

    A good project for some feminist lawyer (I’m a doctoral candidate in archeomythology) is to try to find out why the Bush administration gave 15,000 scholars to study in American universities to the Saudis despite their terrorist connections : and why the Saudi women who come to university here are denied their civil rights by virtue of having a “wali” with them all the time: a male chaperone who makes sure the young women are never alone with any male and attend no social functions and are basically kept as incarcerated in America as they are in Saudi Arabia.

    NO male Saudi students should be allowed in if their women are never going to have in the USA the freedoms that attend to ALL people inside our borders.