Saudi Arabia: Saudi man 'wins' 10-yr-old bride; marriage postponed
The father couldn't retract the challenge and accepted the proposal, asking for a 100,000 riyal dowry, the paper said, adding the two men finalized the marriage procedures and the couple even underwent pre-marital tests, which shocked staff at the lab.
The Saudi National Human Rights Association sent a letter to the Emir of the northwestern city Hail, where the girl lives, and to court to stop the union.
The Association stated that the union is in violation of the international treaty for the protection of children from early marriages, of which Saudi Arabia is a signatory.
The residents of Hail shared the same sentiments and were actually the ones who demanded that the Association intercede to stop the marriage.
Last March, the Association stopped the marriage of a 12-year old boy and his 11-year old cousin in the southwestern province of Jizan.
Saudi sociologist Abdullah Al-Harbi said that in these kinds of marriages the father technically sells his daughter, since the groom-to-be usually pays huge amounts of money to marry a younger girl to "satisfy his sexual desires."
"These marriages usually end up in failure, and the girl usually goes through trauma due to living with a man who is much older," he said.
20 July 2008
By: Maha Fahd Al-Hujailan
Alarabia.net reported on Friday that a 60-year-old man in Hail Province would shortly marry a 10-year-old girl. This report comes on top of another stating that the Hail Province has the dubious distinction of being home to the youngest husband and wife in the world. There could, no doubt, be several unreported instances of old men taking minor girls for wives in other regions of the Kingdom.
While a Saudi newspaper, Shams, expressed outrage at the reported practice of “selling” brides, several people wanted the government to step in and stop the marriage. “Selling” in the context refers to the fact that a girl’s father would agree to marry her to an old man only if he offered an enormous amount of money to the father.
Such reports not only bring a bad name to the province but also tarnish the image of the country and the religion, not to say anything of a minor girl being traumatized by the horrors of a forced conjugal union.
I believe that the situation requires immediate intervention by the authorities. Or else the girl would be raped and transformed from an innocent child to someone who would hate herself and the whole world for that matter.
Recent studies on the victims of pedophilia, a situation comparable to the suffering of minor brides, show that they are reluctant to talk about their strange experience. They become vulnerable to depression and self-detestation as the years pass by with the growing realization that they have been exploited in the most horrendous manner.
Several studies have been made on the psychological and physical effects of sexual experience at an early age.
In an article entitled, “New Findings Add Nuance to Discussion of Early Sex,” Ann Meier, assistant professor of sociology at Minnesota University published by the New York Times, said girls who had sex at an earlier than normal age stood a slightly greater risk than their peers of feeling depressed. She studied 8,563 seventh- through 12th-graders over an 18-month period, measuring for depression and low self-esteem.
She found that girls who had sex were more vulnerable to mental disorders such as chronic depression.
An Arab, with his present cultural and religious background, may not accept that legitimate sexual life would mentally harm a girl between 15 and 17. But this does not mean that a minor’s sexual experience is beneficial, or harmless, to her. If the studies showed that even 17-year-old girls suffered mental illness after sex, what could be the state of a child who had to sleep with a man older than her own father.
There are also studies that established that sexual activities are more likely to cause cervical cancer in girls than in adult women. It is because girls are not physiologically ready for pregnancy until the completion of a full year after puberty.
The practice of marrying small girls may also lead in several cases to undesirable moral situations. By the time a child-wife becomes a fully grown-up woman with increasing biological and emotional needs, her husband would have reached a stage devoid of physical vigor and emotional warmth. An aged husband can hardly understand the feelings and needs of a young wife. Even if he understands, he is helpless against the advancing senility. The situation may prompt at least some young wives to seek illegal relations with young men. While other women of her age lead a romantic life with their young and strong husbands, the young wife would be nursing her old husband rendered totally weak by the overdose of virility drugs.
Science Daily also reported the harmful effects of sex at an early age, quoting a study made by two social scientists at the sociology department in Ohio State University in March last year. Stacy Armour and Dana Haynie, the two scientists, found that teens who started having sex significantly earlier than their peers showed higher rates of delinquency in later years. The study covered more than 7,000 youth of various ethnic origins. The teens, who waited longer than average to have sex, had delinquency rates 50 percent lower. The scientists noted in the study that adolescents needed to be at a stage when they were developmentally prepared for it.
“Those who start having sex too young may not be prepared to deal with the potential emotional, social and behavioral consequences of their actions,” they added.
Although the findings are based on illegal sexual experience before marriage among school students, the same would, apparently, be applicable to minor girls coerced to have sex under the guise of marriage. It is said that sex with a man is a nightmarish experience even for some adult wives. You can imagine the trauma a minor girl undergoes.
A Saudi woman said that as a girl she used to listen with terror to stories told by her married friends. One day she happened to overhear her grandfather and mother discuss her marriage. She was then in the fifth standard at a primary school. She was so shocked at the grandfather’s plan that she began to perspire profusely, her mouth turned dry and was gasping for breath and she was shivering like anything and fled to her bedroom. Even the memory of that overheard-conversation used to make her shudder and never after that she sought the company of her grandfather.
Lastly I urge the National Human Rights Society and related agencies in Hail and other places to make every effort to stop the wedding, particularly when it has become clear that the relatives of the 10-year-old girl have no pity on her, nor do they care for her rights as a human being.
14 July 2008
Source: Arab News
- Violence against Women in the context of Political Transformations and Economic Crisis in the Euro-Mediterranean Region:
- Too Young to Wed
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo*
- Disposable Victims: Laws and Practices on Gender-related Killings of Women and Girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran