Author Topic: Preteen Girl Wins Divorce From 80-Year-Old Husband  (Read 601 times)

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Offline Confederate Kahanist

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Preteen Girl Wins Divorce From 80-Year-Old Husband
« on: April 28, 2010, 10:48:27 PM »

I feel as though I've been writing a lot of posts recently about child brides, most of them tragic stories in which the girl dies from childbirth or, in the case of 12-year-old Elham Mahdi, internal bleeding following intercourse.  But this story is more hopeful.  Like 10-year-old Nujood Ali, who walked out on a husband more than three times her age, a girl who was married at the age of 11 to an 80-year-old man has been granted a private divorce.

There are a few differences in circumstance; the previous three cases occurred in Yemen, where the U.N. estimates that 1 in 3 girls under the age of 18 is married.  This divorce took place in Saudi Arabia, where there is no minimum age for marriage; child marriages are also common, particularly in poorer areas of the country.  Like in Yemen, it's also rare for child brides to challenge the marriage.  This case, however, has caused the state-run Human Rights Commission to call for a minimum marriage age of 16.

In the debates over child marriage, some clerics have cited the prophet Muhammad's marriage to a 9-year-old girl as an appropriate precedent; however, the issue seems often to be mostly related to poverty.  The father of the girl who just received a divorce was given a little over $20,000 as her dowry.  In impoverished regions, it seems likely that child marriages are spurred by hardship, and the prospect both of extra money and one less mouth to feed.  To pin the practice purely on Islam ignores the complex interplay of issues that allows child marriage to continue.  Some religious leaders have spoken out against it; earlier this year, Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a senior Saudi cleric, claimed that prophet's marriage occurred centuries ago and could not be used to justify marriages today.

It seems clear, however, that child marriages are an incredibly dangerous practice, and that they often result in tragedy.  As I've pointed out in other posts, maternal mortality is far more severe in girls under 15, and promises from new husbands to refrain from consummating the marriage until their child wife is older are often broken.  The Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice will issue new guidelines after hearing from child psychologists, Islamic law scholars, and medical experts.

"The main aim is to not allow cases like this to happen again," explained Alanoud al-Hejailan, a lawyer for the commission.  Let's hope that the HRC and the Ministry of Justice agree.
Chad M ~ Your rebel against white guilt