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Saudi’s wedding woes

Saudi’s wedding woes

Marriage officials in the kingdom are under fire from rights groups for certifying underage weddings. But they say they are not to blame, reports Arab News.

February 22, 2009 3:30 by

Another marriage official, Fareed Al-Ajrafi, said that there are no regulations that prevent such marriages, but says that officials should make a judgment call on whether ages of the bride and the groom are compatible before certifying the union.

“If a 60-year-old man wants to marry a 10-year-old child it would surprise me. However, there is neither a law against it nor is it forbidden in Shariah,” he said.

“I once was asked to certify the marriage of a girl in the ninth grade and I thought she is too young to get married. I asked to meet her in person in order to ask her whether she is being forced into this marriage. When she walked into the room she was taller than her father and looked pretty mature and wanted to get married.”

Al-Ajrafi also cited examples of daughters from tribal families who are married off at 14 and 15 and still able to handle their married life easily.

“We don’t want to generalize the issue. We know that society is against it and we also know that a 12-year-old girl marrying a 60-year-old is a total mismatch,” he said, adding that a young girl can always appeal to a court if she is being forced to marry.

Sultan Bin-Zahim, a lawyer, also agrees with him. He related an example of an underage girl who was married by her father to an elderly man that led her mother to file a complaint in court asking for an annulment. The girl was summoned to court and the judge asked her whether she wanted to stay married to her elderly husband or not. The girl replied that she loves him and wants to live with him.

“If the husband is physically and financially able and the wife is happy then the union is legal even if the man is aged,” Bin-Zahim added.

He said that in cases of forced marriages the contract is dissolved. And if the father marries his minor daughter to someone she does not want, then a complaint should be filed in court. The court could end the marriage after an investigation.

First seen in Arab News.

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