Saudi court won't allow 8-year-old girl to divorce her 58-year-old husband

The Telegraph reports that a Saudi court won't allow an 8-year-old girl to divorce her 58-year-old husband. The court in its wisdom ruled that the girl must reach puberty before she can pursue her case.
The divorce plea was filed in August by the girl's divorced mother with a court at Unayzah, 220 kilometres (135 miles) north of Riyadh just after the marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.

"She doesn't know yet that she has been married," the lawyer said then of the girl who was about to begin her fourth year at primary school.

Saudi court rejects plea to annul 8-year-old girl's marriage to 58-year-old man (via Anorak)


  1. Assuming whoever coined the mnemonic of “The nearly-dead, and the newly-bred have more in common with each other than with people in the middle.” had something else in mind.

  2. I just came back from Saudi Arabia (for the Hajj) and it was really nice. But that story… is just disgusting and as a Muslim, I am utterly ashamed of the Saudi government for allowing such filth to happen.

    may God protect that little girl. And I hope that human rights activists will keep fighting for her.

  3. The court in its wisdom ruled that the girl must reach puberty before she can pursue her case.

    But it’s perfectly fine to get married before puberty. Ummm.. WHAT?!?!? I think something is wrong here with the logic, or lack thereof..

  4. Nothing like raping children in the name of God.

    Merry Christmas.

    The article makes it clear that she is betrothed, not married. She lives with her parents, and neither cohabits nor sleeps with her husband, nor will she until she is 18.

    The advanced age of the husband is all that separates this from an arranged marriage.

    It’s still creepy, but let’s not have a seat over there right yet.

  5. is it our moral duty to make war on Saudi Arabia and liberate those oppressed by these scandalous practices? If the outside world does not intervene, who will? Should there not be sanctions by decent nations against any nation that trades with this evil regime? Look at the huge funds they squander on weapons, while doing nothing to elevate the status of half their citizens. This theocracy is an abomination and affront to all that is good. Further, the corrupt,nepotistic clique that rules with iron fist and bloody scimitar is an offense against the human right to democracy and equality.

    How I’m doing?

  6. Petty good, Tak. I didn’t notice your name till I was halfway through, so you would have had me going. However, it’s a little elegantly written. Needs moar krazy. Try punching yourself in the face a few times first, then rewrite it.

  7. #11 are you talking about saudi arabia, or america? I got confused with the whole “they spend more money on weapons than people” thing(Isn’t america #1 for per-capita military spending?), and the whole theocracy thing(doesn’t jesus speak directly to George Bush?), the ruling with an iron fist and bloody scimitar(violent police raids, and tortured war criminal suspects anyone?)… But at least america isn’t nepotistic, just ask president George Bush, I mean, the second one, not the first one…

  8. I knew a Chinese girl who was betrothed once. She was so casually accepting of it I almost screamed. Then again, her betrothed was a fellow of her age, who she’d more or less grown up with. She was about eleven when I knew her, very intelligent; she made me feel like a child in comparison and I was turning fourteen.

    I learned not to ever mention it though. She certainly didn’t feel oppressed… I wonder. She’ll be the age I was when I knew her, now. I wonder how she feels about it.

    I wonder how much this child’s father got for selling her.

  9. Nice try, but the term “clique” went out with Kim Jong-il’s hairstyle.

    Now, for great justice, since we’ve had a “Chinese are eating cats” and a “Muslims are marrying children” post, can we get something crazy about what Africans are doing?

    Trifecta! Trifecta! Trifecta!

  10. What I’d like to know is, with them divorced, does he have any custody over her? If not, I could hardly see this marriage contract being valid in any law of theirs. AFAI can see, the dad pulled a fast one to get a quick buck, legal or not. And I seriously doubt the ten year waiting period, because why pay now for something you may never get, at his age, there’s a real chance he’ll be dead by that time. Why was the waiting only verbally agreed to?

  11. The crucial absurdity here is that her father sold the right to marry her for $8000 because he just needed the money.

    She may not be “married” but she has been bought. I bet when she reaches whatever point that she can file for divorce herself the court is going to tell her that a deal is a deal and she needs to repay the $8000, and I doubt her father will have it on hand for her.

  12. Ahh, now that I RFTA (actually, RFTT since the A won’t come up for me), 8,000. Wonder how much that’ll get him.

    Still seems fishy, though…

  13. Isn’t this like what Queen Elizabeth II’s ancestors used to commonly do? Dynastic arrangement of marriage between ruling houses and families? Is not that a large part of Euro and Western history?
    Do you guys think that no arranged marriages have ever ended in a long and happy and prosperous union?
    Is the Hindu and Chinese practises in this regard equally worthy of scorn?
    Are they not just imitating the manners of Euro aristocracy (that is, the Ruling Class) of days gone by, but are simply ignorant that they do so?
    I’m so full of questions…

  14. It makes perfect sense. She remains her father’s property until she is 18 and married. It is a good financial move to take the money now as a lease on her until she is 18. It’s just like a reverse mortgage.


  15. Here’s a happy thought. Rather than battle in court, mothers can just teach their daughters the Lorena Bobbit defense. Should help put an end to forced miasma.

  16. this is one man, one woman and a hell of a lot closer to bronze age marriage conventions than this current equality fad is producing.

    Huckabee should be all over this defending it.

  17. Thank goodness they don’t have activist judges redefining marriage. Who knows what that would lead to? Good on you Saudi court! Way to show Americans what traditional marriage truly looks like.

  18. @ #24 – as much as it scares me, arranged marriages apparently have a higher success rate. It was the way it was done for thousands of years I suppose. So hard to tell what from the past was broke and what we broke by trying to fix it.

  19. @34 Roach

    as much as it scares me, arranged marriages apparently have a higher success rate.

    What does “success” mean here? Not getting divorced?

    Maybe arranged marriages merely engender an overwhelming sense of obligation and personal sacrifice. Instead of being willful enough to say, “this isn’t working for me; I’m leaving!”

  20. This really is a cultural thing that we have no right o judge; none at all. We might not like it but it is not our place to force our morals on Muslims any more than to force our form of government on them by force.

    When we learn to leave people alone, we will find that we have no enemies.

  21. 30+ posts and not one person was sick enough to (jokingly) express interest in moving to Saudi Arabia?

    I’m disappointed.

  22. @34
    Arranged marriages are more “successful” because if the marriage fails, it is *always* the woman’s fault, and she will catch hell from both sides of the family, be outcast and left destitute. And that’s the best case scenario. In Saudi Arabia, it’s very common and pretty much legal for women to be *murdered* by their families if they step out of line, because by doing so, they “bring dishonor on the family.”

  23. I have a pretty good Saudi friend. His older sister is divorced. She moved back to their parents’ place with the kids afterward. He says it’s not really that uncommon. Hell, he rather likes the arrangement, because he loves kids and was happy to have some little nephews/nieces running around with his kids.

    I think the murdering business is quite uncommon.

    And for the arranged marriage bit:

    My friend got married during the time that we were hanging out a lot. Here’s how most marriages work:

    1) Guy decides its time to get hitched.

    2) Guy and his family go meet with a matchmaker (female) and say what they’re looking for.

    3) Matchmaker goes through her records of eligible women who have approached her and makes a short list.

    4) Meetings between the families are arranged. Of course, the couple is the central focus, but it’s important to make sure the families get along, too.

    5) Guy picks one of the girls (in my friend’s case he didn’t like any because one of the things he was very serious about was finding someone who didn’t hate the West and America, because he had so many friends around the world–this turned out to be pretty difficult, he said). He then calls the matchmaker and asks her to extend his proposal to the girl and her family.

    6) Girl and her family is given time to think about it and answer when she/they feel comfortable.

    7) Provided it’s a yes, they are then engaged, and that’s when the real courtship begins, with dating and long phone calls and the falling-in-love business (chaperoned, of course). This goes on for a long time (like a year). Either party can call it off during this period.

    8) Couple is actually married, already knowing that their values are compatible, their families get along, and they are all lovey-dovey after their year of courting.

    In the case of my friend, he said that when he finally did find his future wife, he knew she was the one the moment he walked into her living room. They hit it off immediately and he felt like he’d always known her. The families were already friends through his elder (divorced) sister, so people all got along. They spent the next year on the telephone. I’m serious. They were inseparable, despite being on separate sides of the planet.

    When I finally met her, I, too, felt like I already knew her, after my friend blathering about her for a year. They were the cutest, most loving couple, and they seemed like they’d been together forever. She was sassy and funny (even in English), and a perfect match for the guy, who was also quick-witted and jovial.

    Obviously, this is an n-size of one, but his experiences alone led me to really question this “arranged marriages are bad” value I’d been raised with. What is an eHarmony marriage but a Western, 21st-century version of the Saudi process? My friend was sold on it as being a no-hassle, no-pressure deal, where you don’t really start courting until you’ve made a commitment, which means that you will be inclined to work through any problems you have, finding balances and compromises, rather than just breaking up and running.

    I’m not saying that this applies here, where this is obviously a violation of this girl’s rights. But what I’m saying is that the problem isn’t arranged marriages; it’s horrible men who would sell their daughters, and the disgusting perversion of all that is good and promising in Islam as written by Muhammad (one of which was the elevation of women in society–his own wife was a successful trader who basically bankrolled his whole prophet gig).

  24. @45
    I’m truly happy that your friend and his wife are happy with their situation. They are most fortunate. It does not work out that way for everybody.

    If you want to know what it is like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia, I suggest you read these books, written by a Saudi princess:

    One of the stories in the first book describes in detail how one of her close friends, a child still in her teens, was “punished” for immodest behavior by being drowned in the family pool *by her own male relatives*.

    This was not a group of ignorant, impoverished villagers, but a well-to-do Saudi family who are educated and wealthy.

    And this is only *one* incident. The books are *full* of this kind of thing.

  25. What a lot of you are missing is the age of the bride. Arranged marriages are weird to us, but if it’s someone’s culture then it’s not our business to judge. As some have pointed out, arranged marriages may be very happy ones, and how is our track record on that? We’re no experts. However an 8yr old is in no position to make a decision about marriage, and is certainly too young to be married. I’d call that child abuse – custom or not.

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