Saudi Arabian Justice Minister Muhammad Al-Issa announced plans to enact laws regulating child marriages in the country just days after judge Sheikh Habib Al-Habib again refused to annul an eight-year-old girl’s arranged marriage last weekend.
In an interview with Al-Watan, a Saudi Arabian newspaper, Al-Issa said the law will regulate child marriage in order to prevent child abuse, but did not indicate whether new laws would illegalize the practice, according to CNN. 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.
In the recently publicized legal case, 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. In the most recent ruling, 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.”