Posted by: becketfund | April 15, 2009

Saudi Arabia: Government to Regulate Marriage of Young Girls

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia plans to regulate the marriages of young girls after a court refused to nullify the marriage of an 8-year-old to a man 50 years her senior, Reuters reported on April 14. The justice ministry aims “to put an end to arbitrariness by parents and guardians in marrying off minor girls,” Justice Minister Mohamed al-Issa told al-Watan newspaper, which is partially owned by members of the royal family. The minister’s comments suggest that the practice of marrying off young girls will not be abolished. The regulations will seek to “preserve the rights, fending off blights to end the negative aspects of underage girls’ marriage,” he said. A court in the Saudi town of Unaiza upheld for the second time last week the marriage of the Saudi girl to a man who is approximately 50 years her senior, on condition he does not have sex with her until she reaches puberty. The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF expressed on April 13 its “deep concern” over the Onaiza court ruling.  “Irrespective of circumstances or the legal framework, the marriage of a child is a violation of that child’s rights,” UNICEF’s chief, Ann Veneman, said in a statement.

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