Saudi Court Refuses to Annul Marriage of 8-Year-old to 58-Year-Old Man

Saudi Arabia flagA Saudi court has refused to annul the marriage of an eight-year-old girl who was married off by her father to a 58-year-old man. The Unayzah court says that it would prefer the girl to remain married to the man until she reaches puberty — a curious solution to child abuse. The girl’s divorced mother has been trying to annul the marriage.

In an outrageous decision, the court ruled that the mother did not have the right to file such an action despite the fact that she is the biological mother of a child and the child is in a clearly harmful position. Instead, the judge wants to wait to see if the girl will want to file after staying married until the age of puberty.

The father insists that he protected his daughter by getting a handshake deal with the man not to consummate the marriage until she is 18. He needed the money that the man was willing to give for his daughter.

This is of course nothing new in the region, here and here and here and here.

For the full story, click here.

28 thoughts on “Saudi Court Refuses to Annul Marriage of 8-Year-old to 58-Year-Old Man”

  1. Jill,

    I am supposing that I fit squarely within the confrontational camp after 40 years within the diplomatic corps while I ploddingly accepted religious zealotry. If so, then Bush, his crusaders and their associated death, destruction, and violations of constitutional guarantees were the impetuses that moved me from one camp to the other and over a threshold I never preferred to cross.

  2. FFLEO,

    This is from an article on atheism at Alternet. It’s for you!

    “Like every other movement for social change I can think of, the atheist movement has its more diplomatic members and its more confrontational ones. And like every other movement for social change I can think of, the atheist movement needs both. It’s more powerful with both. Both methods together work better than either one would work on its own.”

  3. Several years ago, I would have never written the snarky, anti-religion prose that I just wrote. However, after the severe worldwide damage Mr. Bush (et al.) has done with his born-again christian religion *after* he “sowed his wild oats” I can no longer accept that–in the end–religion is all that good for humanity.

    I have been an atheist for 40 years, although I always told others that it is okay for religious fundamentalist Christian Republicans—the faith/party of all my relatives—and other religious extremists to espouse whatsoever they chose, because their end-goal was to help all humankind. Bush/Cheney et al. changed my mind in a dramatic and all-encompassing manner. I now cringe after listening to his ubiquitous “god bless you and Amurrka’s” instead of once just accepting that he is a religious fool and must say that to bear witness because he “believes” those voices in his head are his heavenly father pulling his puppet strings to ensure his eternal salvation.

    I swear to god!…oops—I mean goodness–I am astounded that rational human beings still worship and follow an anthropomorphic *man-god*. *He* (of course, he!, no female is smart enough and besides, they’s dishes to do) resides somewhere up there in the wild blue yonder who, like Santa Clause, knows when you are sleeping; knows when you’re awake; and knows when you been bad or good…. And then even if your aren’t good he still gives eternal life to those who believe in and except JC, who is really god, who is really the lord, who is really the holy ghost…arrgh!…holy mackerel, Kingfish! He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere!

    I have spent hundreds of dollars on very interesting books dealing with the natural v. a supernatural god from all of the famous authors. The god hypothesis is simply untenable and untreatable by the scientific method. Science has nothing to say about supernaturalisms that cannot be measured by our 7-human senses or human-derived instrumentations that are extensions thereof.

    Therefore, let religious people do and “believe” what they must as long as it is legal; however, we must keep their proselytizing out of government by emphatically enforcing the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment provisions concerning Separation of Church and State.

    Finally, and more relevant to this thread’s topic, I do not want the President of ‘my’ U.S.A. *palling around* with officials of a government that allows the bartering of prepubescent girls’ freedoms and that sanctions the trafficking in young sex slaves.

    Rant and Snark OFF.

  4. Mike,

    I agree that “religion can be an aspiration towards the highest values of humanity”. But to me religion is through and through a human endeavor. There is no divine upon which humans cast both their best and their worst aspirations. The religions you write about were written by human beings at a certain point in history. At those points, in each of these cases, patriarchy was the social norm and was incorporated within the teachings of the texts. I think Bart Ehrman is correct when he asks us not to shirk from what the texts actually say, both good and bad. Because of when they were written there is much to enforce the oppression and lesser worth of women in these texts.

    There can equally be no denying that many liberation movements have sprung from people using these same texts. So we have to ask how can two such contradictory outcomes come from the same texts? I think this is because people are projecting either their best self or their worst self onto the texts. We think it’s the voice of god but really we are hearing ourselves. We don’t want to think its us, we want it to be god/dess. Once we say it’s god, god acts just like we think s/he should. So that’s how we get everything that is horrible in human beings justified by the religion and it’s how we get everything that is good justified by it as well.

    Instead, I think we need to stop giving away our power to a divinity and start to accept this is what we as human beings are, what we are capable of and what we can/are doing. We don’t need any texts, we don’t need to have a spiritual leader who stands above the rest of humanity. It’s just us. I’m not denying the human spirit, I’m just saying it’s human, not divine. If we nurture what is best in our spirit our society will be a good one.

  5. And what does the 43rd President of the United States’ anthropomorphic god whisper into George *Pious* Bush’s ear about how his Saudi friends handle 8-year-old innocents’ being sold into sex slavery?

    Perhaps, god whispers softly and tenderly , “Psst, georgie, its okay it’s just 1 little soul—and just a girl at that anyway–and I’ll take care of her at *rapture* ’cause them Saudi’s got lotsa oil n’ blood money, and if you anger them, another 9-11 might happen on YOUR watch, AGAIN by the Saudis’ compatriots. I’m running the show and Armageddon aint scheduled on my calendar of events juss yet, so don’t go a’screwin’-up god’s plans. My Bema Seat of Christ’s Judgment has fallen into disrepair and the White Throne of Justice needs another whitewash job.

    Remember my son, I am kinda like the man-in-the-moon (although much less credible), and there is just some things I have no control over; like your lack of brains and givin’ a win to the Detroit Lions…

    Oh, and georgie, that video of you standing on the ruins of the fallen towers while smoke was still arisin’ and sayin’:

    “May god *CONTINUE* to bless Amurrka”, was not good ’cause I heard the thoughts from around the world of all them mean ol’ atheists–like that scoundrel FFLEO–think:

    “Well if this is god *continuing* to bless America, then I would just as soon god held off with these kinds of Blessings involving utter destruction, death, and national humiliation.”

    That one gave me a real headache. So, be cool my son, and continue to listen to my voices in your head and get outta town as soon as you can this January. My Tarot cards, the Fox News Astrology Charts, inside scoops from the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, Palm Reader Pam, and the gypsy lady down on 34th Street and Vine, all foretell of your possible legal troubles involving high crimes and misdemeanors.

    And please, tell the World Tribunals that *other guy*, the Devil, made you and Cheney do it ’cause I am up to my ears in angry Muslim radicals….

    This sinner is a recovered-from baptized Southern Baptist devotee who ‘done saw the other light’ about 40 years ago when I went to college and learned the teachings of a *real* man named Darwin.

  6. Jill,
    I do disagree. Religion can be an aspiration towards the highest values of humanity. Patriarchy in religions, in my opinion, is the overlay impressed upon belief by egotists who seek to use these aspirations by warping the teachings into justifications of power. A glimmer of Jesus, for instance, shines through the Gospels. All the rest of the Christian Canon is suspect because of the Roman usurpation in the interests of the Emperor Constantine. Judaism and Islam are not necessarily patriarchal in nature, but their better aspirations also became subsumed by the repressive nature of the local culture. This is also how the teachings of the Buddha, could later lead to warfare and intra-sect civil war. All of this is the use of religion in the service of man’s lust for power and consequently the diminishing of nobler aspirations.

  7. Mike,

    I really agree that the Saudi’s don’t have the market on the abuse of children and women. I don’t think patriarchy uses religion as cover, I think religion is very often just one more expression of patriarchy. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

  8. At play here, besides the obvious Church/State issues, is that the Saudi’s have conflated Islam with local traditions to the benefit of neither one. Islam does not per se celebrate child marriages, but the tradition of total male patriarchy uses religion as a cover for a cultural need to dominate females out of fear. Sadly, as bizarre as the Saudi’s are, many of our own fundamentalist sects are only a fraction better when it comes to respecting women, the Saudi’s only represent the outer ring of the vile circle of male dominance/entitlement.

  9. We definately invaded the wrong country. These Bozos could throw virgins in volcanos but as long as the oil keeps flowing and they keep supporting out national debt our government will tip-toe around this stuff.

  10. Sally,

    Then to clarify things for me, if that’s O.K. for you–Do you think state sponsored religion is both Constitutional and a good thing or not Constitutional but still a good idea? If you do think these things, why?



  11. I understand his point very cleary Jill

    He and I just aren’t on the same side of the fence on this one.

    I will say this though, I do believe that if prayer is going to be held at a public school function, then it really should be student led. That can help in saving tax dollars that are meant for schools from any lawsuits.

  12. Sally:

    I had a similar experience. It’s takes a strong person to overcome that invisible but very real pressure to conform.

  13. Mespo….
    As a former Catholic that went to a Christian Baptist school down in Georgia, I know what it’s like to have others disrepect your faith. It takes a strong person to overcome that and not let others offend you because they disagree with what you believe.

  14. Sally:

    The crime may be worse but the principle that religiously inspired decision making is bad for all concerned does not. And as to your comment that “Praying at a football game causes no mental or physical harm to anyone,” I suggest you ask a Jewish or Muslim kid on that team about that–that is of course assuming they had the courage to defy the powers that be and overcome the discouragement that such a policy engenders. Lest you think this is a hypothetical situation, see:

    where New Mexico State Coach Hal Mumme engaged in much the same conduct as complained of here (e.g. mandating recitation of the Lord’s Prayer to Muslims)and cost his university $165,000 for mental anguish and denial of civil rights.

  15. Child molesters are not the same Mespo. Praying at a football game causes no mental or physical harm to anyone.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this man will indeed have sex with this child

  16. From the article: “Mr Jtili said he was going to appeal the verdict at the court of cassation, the supreme court in the ultra-conservative kingdom which applies Islamic Sharia law in its courts.”


    Like our sweaty football players/coaches in Texas, this is what occurs when the tenets of religion trumps law based on reason and respect for all cultures. I am sure the child’s father (who received the advance dowry during his financial meltdown) and who piously supports the marriage is “proud to be (a) Christian (er, make that “Muslim”)!! More power to him to stand up for what he believes is right!!”

    Where have I heard that before? Sally, any idea?

  17. Of course he should trust him!! The man gave him a handshake and his word!! Because that’s what perverts do who marry young children, they don’t have sex with them until the child is old enough to say that they want to have sex.

    What a sad sad world for that little girl.

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