Saudi Arabia: Forced Marriage of Young Girl Has Ended
Monday, May 4, 2009 12:07 PM

An 8-year-old Saudi girl's marriage to a 47-year-old man has ended.  Her father had forced her to marry last year for about $13,000, a debt settlement.  

The girl obtained the divorce through an out-of-court settlement, before a new judge formally annulled the marriage. Previously, requests for an annullment were rejected by courts on the condition that the marriage not be consummated until the girl reached puberty, and because the request was presented by the girl's mother, who is not her legal guardian.

Saudi Arabia is being increasingly criticized both on the national and international level for permitting child marriages. In addition, media reports in the country indicate that some marriage officials don’t ensure the woman's consent although it is a legal requirement. Young girls may be married off  in return for a huge gift or based on a long-standing custom in which cousins are promised to each other.

Saudi human rights groups are pressing for a minimum marriage age law. They stress that international agreements ratified by Saudi Arabia are being violated.  

Compiled from: Saudi Arabian Girl Wins Divorce, Feminist Majority Foundation.  1 May 2009