Child brides in Saudi Arabia and other countries
Child brides in Saudi Arabia and other countries. A new fatwa recently issued in Saudi Arabia suggests that Supreme Mufti of the country will allow giving girls into marriage at the age of ten. However, he only legalized the existing orders: here eight-year-old girls, with the consent of their fathers, are married off to old men. In very early age many Saudi girls already know whom they will marry. Suitors are chosen by their own fathers. If a daughter is a devout Muslim and obedient, her father can bestow her with a marriage to a relatively young man. If a daughter shows obstinacy, then she is usually given to the first available Muslim who agrees to marry her.
‘Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him’: Tahani (in pink) was just six years old when she she married Majed, 25 (standing next to her). The young wife posed for this portrait with former classmate Ghada, also a child bride, outside their mountain home in Hajjah, Yemen
The Muslim family law has certain nuances. Up until the girl reaches puberty, she is forbidden to have sexual relations. Before the onset of puberty, she will have to live only in her father’s house. She moved into the house of her husband only after the onset of puberty. This requirement is spelled out in the Muslim family law in black and white.
In Yemen in the early 2000 there was a case where a man raped his official wife – a girl who at that time has not reached puberty. The girl died of severe bleeding. Sharia Court immediately punished the rapist to the full extent of Islamic law. But this girl was formally the wife of this man. This is only a formality.
In Saudi Arabia, once a girl turns ten years old, she is legally entitled to be a wife. Her father, as a rule, is looking for a husband for her. Next a formal marriage is concluded. Before puberty the wife lives in her father’s house. After puberty, she moves into her husband’s house, and they begin sexual activity.
In June of 2011, a Saudi theologian Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzaan went even further. He issued a fatwa where the obstruction of early marriage for girls was called a violation of the laws of Allah. According to the Sheikh, the fathers have the right to give their daughters into marriage, “even if they are still in the cradle. But the husband cannot join with them in the intimacy,”until a girl can withstand the weight of a man placed upon her.”
As an example l-Fawzaan brought Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad. Aisha became the Prophet’s wife at the age of six, and entered into intimate relationship with him at nine. This is written in one of the hadiths that are followed to the letter.
COUNTRIES WITH WORST RECORD OF FORCING EARLY MARRIAGE
3. Central African Republic
8. Burkina Faso
9. South Sudan
15. Sierra Leone
17. Dominican Republic
Alemtsahye Gebrekidan was 10 when her childhood came to an abrupt end. ‘I was playing outside and my mum called me inside to the house,’ she remembers of the day her world changed forever. ‘I was in school,’ she remembers, ‘although I stopped the school when I was married. I do have happy memories of childhood – it was just eat and play. All that ended when it was decided she would marry a boy, who until the day of their wedding, she had never met. I didn’t know him,’ she says. ‘I was OK when I saw him – he was a child like me. He was upset as well, the same like me… he was 16 years old.’