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Something New? Saudi Cleric Condones Child Brides

A ceremonial wedding between a girl and a frog sounds like child's play compared to a real wedding between a girl and a middle-aged man. Yet the practice continues to cross our screens and affect real lives around the world. And it's not stopping anytime soon — at least not in Saudi Arabia.

Top Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, said it is not fair to tell a 10- or 12-year-old girl that she can't marry. This comes after a Saudi judge refused to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 58-year-old man.

The girl's mother petitioned for the annulment, saying the marriage was arranged by the girl's father to settle a debt. The judge's only consolation? He required the newlywed husband to sign a pledge promising to abstain from sex until the girl reached puberty, bringing new meaning to abstinence pledge.

Though Saudi law may intend to protect children, it's difficult to separate the secular from the sacred in a country so steeped in Islam — a religion that imposes no age limits on marriage. A Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch said, "It is still the religious establishment that holds sway in the courts, and in many realms beyond."


Join The Conversation
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
hithatsmybike, oh you have brought up a lot of relevant and important issues, many of which I agree with you on. When someone does something wrong in the name of an "acceptable God" of an "acceptable religion" in the eyes of the "modern"/"civilized" world then people tend to let it slide.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
While I personally think this is wrong I don't think it's my right as an individual or as an American to put my values and those of many of my country man on someone else...that is how "we" got ourselves in many messes. If something like this bothers you instead of shunning it and being judgement do something about it donate to charitable organizations that help these girls out etc.
Pegona Pegona 8 years
Also, Citizen, great job choosing a picture for this post. The expressions are the little girls' faces are very interesting.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
Ijawgirl, that story you said is so sad.
gidigirl gidigirl 8 years
Zeze In Nigeria, (where i am from) you do hear about VERY young girls (10 & up) in the North(Moslem) who are damaged anatomically from their "husbands" having sex with them before they are developed enough. In the rural area's there are definately people who dont know their birthdays...Like you said, however they usually know the year based on events that happened within the that if they are off it is usually by about 6-15 months . Although as the dates are not documented, and memories fail as time goes by, it can become more like 1-5yrs. When my grandmother died, she was somewhere between 84-90. Depending on the "mood" she was in, she would change it on a whim , always to her convenience:)
zeze zeze 8 years
ljawgirl - I'm wondering if that woman's mother knows her actual birthday. I am not saying it is impossible to give birth at 10, but to do so and survive, in Sudan, seems especially rare. It seems a lot more plausible that she just has no idea when her actual year of birth is, she might be off by 5 or so years, maybe less which would make it just as horrific, but slightly less insane. I know a number of older people from countries like Sudan who have no clue when they were born because that stuff is not documented or not documented accurately. The only way these people know their birthdays is by events that happened around when they were born and their mother/father shared that event with them.
gidigirl gidigirl 8 years
Not an anomaly in the Sudan!
poissondujour poissondujour 8 years
Jessie- Or at least it was at the time. I agree with you on the concept, though. :)
gidigirl gidigirl 8 years
So sad that this STILL goes on in the 21st century. I met a woman at the library last year.. we started talking because we both have 5year old sons. In the course of the conversaion i found out that she was 22 with a 32 year old mother!!!! Her mother gave birth to her at age 10. She is from Sudan and apparently this is NOT an ANOMALY. We had an interesting conversation about the travesty of having a 10 year old for a mother!!
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
of=to in the last sentence.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
As someone whose read the Qur'an it also says that no one, male or female, can be forced into marriage. I highly doubt the 8 year old is consenting, so what the hell. The Qur'an is pretty progressive (for a religious doctrine) on protecting women's rights of safety and protection.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
This is so sad.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I'm with Undave on this one: I don't know what we're supposed to do about it. I also don't adhere to the concept of "fundamental human rights", namely "fundamental human rights as determined by north america", but that's another discussion for another time. Western culture is boasting some horrible psychologically damaging crusades like Jesus camps and the Creationist Museum, which is all about indoctrinating little children with warped ideals and a whole lot of guilt. But oh, when it's someone else's religion it's suddenly a crime against humanity? Please. Everyone's guilty here. Why police Saudia Arabia before solving our own flaws? Religion is a crime against humanity in every setting and every action.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
This is soo sick! Poor little girls. Just gross
Pegona Pegona 8 years
Within the confines of not completely reordering the entire world and ALL power relations within it (which I'm not necessarily opposed to), I think agreements to abstain from sex until puberty are reasonable. But what about all the poor girls who don't get such agreements? If pregnancy is not a possibility, culture and religion are not in my opinion good justifications for having sex with your 8 year old bride, it's just raping a child.
GKitty GKitty 8 years
Don't forget the practice of female castration...this is not a happy place!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
it's interesting how we can hear about all the legislation and what not that is discussed about mandates against child brides, yet it continues to happen, and there's really no way to stop it. i think about these girls, and then i think about the show Big Love and how they talk about how there are young girls that are ordered to marry older men, and they are scared. i can get the culture piece of it, but if someone's scared, then how does that make anything better?
zeze zeze 8 years
I wish our government wouldn't be so buddy-buddy with a government that actively promotes and condones these practices that go against human rights and the very religion they hide behind.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
You are right. I meant it's not our government's problem. I also don't know of any organization who can go in and stop this kind of nonsense.
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
This is so sad. That picture is a little disturbing with the context of the article (even though I don't think it's related). I agree with Michelann as well.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
I thought you meant it wasn't our government's problem, I'm sorry I was wrong. Honestly, I don't have an answer for this issue, but that doesn't mean it's "not my problem". I guess those of us who are concerned for the well being of children could look to organizations (like Human Rights Watch) that are dedicated to righting these wrongs for some suggestions on how to help.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Well, what do you suggest we do about it?
stephley stephley 8 years
Nice adjustment Mich!
Roarman Roarman 8 years
I agree with you, Michelann about whose problem it is. I can't just hear something like this and forget about it because it is not happening in my country or too my own child.
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