Married & Divorced @ age 8
Current location: Saudi Arabia.
Time and time again, news comes ringing to our ears of families selling off their children for monetary gains. Entwined within these horrifying deals, are both the mothers who have gone through nine months of labor and the children. Notwithstanding Children’s rights, notwithstanding Women’s rights, children are constantly being trafficked onto third parties in exchange for paper notes. Money comes and money goes, with the victims ending up in hell holes with injured and dead souls. Welcome to the world of modern child slavery; sexual slavery.
Such is the case on hand, when a Saudi girl’s father married off his eight year old daughter to a man in his 50s to pay off a debt. The girl’s mother appealed her daughter’s case in the town of Unaiza; however the judge refused to nullify the marriage. Soon after, the incident gained considerable global light and a new judge took over the case, who quite recently decided to annul the marriage after a divorce was agreed upon by the girl’s husband in an out-of-court settlement.
The incident has raised eyebrows and spurred an array of protests worldwide, forcing Saudi officials to justify their unlawful laws. As per BBC, note the reactions below:
Earlier this year, the country’s highest religious authority, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Shaikh, said it was not against Islamic law to marry off girls who are 15 and younger.
On 15 April, after this case generated considerable negative publicity, Justice Minister Muhammad Issa said he wanted to put an end to the “arbitrary” way in which parents and guardians could marry off their young daughters.
However, he did not say that the practice would be banned.
Moreover, observe the video below; where a Saudi Officiate legalizes a marriage contract, even with a one-year-old girl, as long as the marriage is not consummated without the girl’s consent. However, the consent to consummate is first contingent on the girl’s consent to marriage. How can we assume the former will be rightly accorded to the girl, when the latter was not? Additionally, the Saudi Officiate claims that the guardian’s (girl’s father) opinion is obligatory and so, as per his will he can marry off his daughter to whomsoever he wishes. When a girl gets married, this guardianship is carried forward onto her husband; assuming the guardian’s opinion is obligatory, how can justice ever be accorded to a woman; whether she is married or unmarried under such laws?
Food for thought; what role does a mother play in such a setting besides the childbearing? Does she have any share of the guardianship?
Similar laws have been created in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran to name a few, where women’s oppression is unlawfully tied to religion. In Saudi Arabia, women are denied their rights to vote, drive, participate in the labor force, or travel without their male guardian’s permission. In Pakistan, Talibans have forced their way into Swat Valley, implemented the Sharia law and lived up to their reputation of subjugating women by closing down schools and publicly flogging girls. Not to forget Afghanistan, where President Karzai has implemented a Shia Personal Status law; as per Human Rights Watch:
The new law regulates marriage, divorce, and inheritance for the country’s Shia population. It includes provisions that require a woman to ask permission to leave the house except on urgent business, a duty to “make herself up” or “dress up” for her husband when demanded, and a duty not to refuse sex when her husband wants it.
If human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights (Hillary Clinton, Beijing, China: 5 September 1995), when will women ever be globally treated as human beings?