Saudi Judge Rules that Eight Year Old Girl Cannot Annul Marriage

Saudi Arabian judge Sheikh Habib Al-Habib again refused to annul an eight-year-old girl’s arranged marriage Saturday. One of the girl’s relatives told CNN that the judge “stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty.”

The marriage between the girl and a 47 year-old man was arranged by her father to settle a debt. The girl’s parents are divorced and her mother originally filed to have the marriage annulled last year after discovering the marriage contract had been made without her knowledge, according to Al Arabiya. This petition was dismissed because the girl’s mother is not her legal guardian.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are currently limited on a number of fronts including marriage rights, freedom to travel, property ownership, education, and work. At a meeting earlier this year, members of the United Nations Human Rights Council urged Saudi Arabia to actively work to end pervasive human rights violations in the country, particularly those against women and children. A spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission said last year that “child marriages violate international agreements that have been signed by Saudi Arabia and should not be allowed,” according to CNN.


Feminist Daily Newswire 2/17/09; Human Rights Watch 2/4/09; CNN 4/12/09; Al Arabiya 4/13/09

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