Monday, February 16, 2009

COMMENT: Abuse of women continues in Saudi Arabia ...

A disturbing report has been published in the Arab News about child marriage in Saudi Arabia ...

Mother calls for law against child marriage
Walaa Hawari | Arab News

RIYADH: Despite continuous efforts by private and government bodies to eliminate marriages involving minors, such marriages do take place every so often. In a recent case, two sisters from Al-Jouf, aged 13 and 14, were married off by their father to two elderly men.

“Their father held their hands as they signed their marriage contracts. They did not know what they were signing,” said the mother of the two girls, Nowayer. “When I was informed, I rushed to their father’s house and confronted the marriage contractor asking him whether he heard the girls consent to the marriages, and whether he had seen results of their premarital tests. He replied it was the father’s prerogative to marry them,” she added.

All this is being done in the name of enforcing sharia law. Sad.

The father of the children is in fact the mother's ex-husband. The wife complains he hasn't been paying any child maintenance, but was happy to get his young daughters married off.
... her ex-husband totally ignored her children for 18 months before their marriages. “One day, last month, he called asking the older girls, who are 13 and 14, to dress up as he would be picking them up and taking them to a family occasion,” she said.

It was only when she received a phone call from her sister that she realized what was going on. “I rushed to his house barefoot to find that the marriage contractor had begun my little children’s marriages,” she said.
The mother contacted Saudi Arabia's allegedly Islamic government. Here's how they rushed to her assistance ...
Nowayer sent a telegram to the minister of justice and the minister of health asking them to interfere, but received no response. “I even informed the Social Services Department in Riyadh who promised to interfere but as soon as the issue reached the Al-Jouf province, where I live and where my ex-husband has many connections because of his line of work, things got stalled,” she said.

Nowayer had no choice but to contact human rights organizations to try and reverse the marriages or postpone consummation for at least three years until the girls grow older.
Ms Nowayer did receive some assistance from the Human Rights Commission. The HRC have had a few cases like this, and see their mission as follows:
It’s our mission to introduce human rights into society and create awareness about them.
So people in an allegedly Islamic country and society need to awareness of human rights created in them? Aren't human rights an essential part of the faith? Which religion are people in the Kingdom following?

Saudi Arabia doesn't seem to have laws setting out the minimum age of marriage ...
Al-Harithy said the HRC and the ministries of Justice and Health share common interests. The Ministry of Health recently issued a report on the physical and emotional problems women endure as a result of early marriage.

The report was subsequently sent to the minister of justice, along with recommendations to set a minimum marriage age.
So in theory, a 60 year old Saudi bloke could marry a 5 year old Saudi girl. And they call this legal system "Islamic"?

Meanwhile, King Abdullah has decided to appoint a woman to his ministry. Here's how the Guardian reports the news:
Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-educated former teacher, was made deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students, a significant breakthrough in a country where women are not allowed to drive.

"This is an honour not only for me but for all Saudi women. In the presence of a comprehensive operational team, I believe I'll be able to face challenges and create positive change," she told Arab News. Fayez said she would study the state of girls' education in Saudi Arabia before commenting on the task before her.
The King also removed his nation's Chief Justice, Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan. Among Sheikh Luhaydan's more memorable judgments was this ...
Luhaydan ruled last year that it was permissible to kill owners of satellite television channels broadcasting "immoral" programmes.

(Thanks to BC)

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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Eurasian Sensation said...

Not trying to sh*t-stir here, but I have to ask what seems to me like an obvious question:

How is it surprising that child marriage occurs in Saudi Arabia (or any other Muslim country), when they are following the precedent set by none other than the Prophet Muhammad, who himself married a pre-teen girl?

Expat said...

I think your sh*t-stiring here, what you have to understand is that social differences between 21st century and 7th century, that is 1400 years apart, to be realistic, you have to consider the time difference (look at Europe in medieval ages), the prophet who carried the message of islam, has his own personal life that was perfectly normal in his age can not be considered when talking about islam or muslims because it is separate from the message. Many practices in marriage in the different times, cultures and religions vary considerably and there is no right or wrong, for example polygamy was and is still practiced in many communities (not even related to religion), and there is no right or wrong, its simply differences in values and society. for many societies, sex before marriage is socially unacceptable, however in western culture it is, so we should not look at social issues as right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think no matter what the values or culture you live in, it is simply wrong to oppress women in such a way. These girls are 13 and 14 and are forced to marry way older men. Saudi Arabia is an appaling example of a society where the subjective interpretation of a religion has pushed practices and laws to an extreme. Its so sad to see that een today, some women are considered as children, have no rights over their lives and are merely seen as domestics serving men's every needs.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am a female and feel very lucky NOT to be born in saudi arabia or in a similar country .If you were a male ,then it's OK as these countries are designed for them.All in all these countries should be wiped out of the earth for good with all the men in it.

Abdullah Hanif Khan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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