“Save me. I don’t want him.”
An 11-year-old girl has been forced to marry an octogenarian in Saudi Arabia, becoming the latest addition to the rising number of child brides in the kingdom.
January 18, 2010 12:14 by Aarti Nagraj
In the latest example of the rising number of child brides in Saudi, an 11-year-old girl was forced to marry a man 70 years her senior who already has three wives, reports Al Arabiya, quoting local media. Despite the girl’s mother objecting to the marriage, the girl’s father, who received SAR 85,000 ($22,665) in dowry, said that there was no reason for the wedding to be a problem.
“I don’t care about her age,” he told the Saudi daily al-Riyadh. “Her health and her body build make her fit for marriage. I also don’t care what her mother thinks,” he said. “This is a very old custom and there is nothing wrong with it whether religiously or socially.”
The groom, a cousin of the girl’s father, also seemed surprised at the commotion created by the wedding.
“He [the father] told me ‘I have a girl and she will marry no one but you,’” the groom told the paper. “So, we got the witnesses and summoned the registrar. I paid the dowry and we held the ceremony and that was it,” he said.
“It is very simple. We didn’t do anything wrong. It is a valid contract that meets all the conditions for marriage. What’s the point of all this fuss?”
The marriage registrar also shared the same sentiment. “There is no law that prohibits the marriage of a girl under 18,” an official told al-Riyadh. “Plus, I summoned the girl and she declared her consent and signed the contract,” he added, contrasting reports that the bride burst into tears and cried: “Save me. I don’t want him.”