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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