Mar 25 2009
It isn’t much, but with the appoiuntment of less radical ministers in the Saudi Government, there could finally be a law that would make 17, the minimum age at which girls could marry.
An appeals court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has rejected and refused to certify a court ruling allowing a 47-year-old man’s marriage to an 8-year-old girl, said a relative of the girl with knowledge of the proceedings. Under the Saudi legal process, what the appeals court ruling means is that the controversial marriage is still in effect, but a challenge to the marriage by the girl’s mother is still alive. The appeals court action now sends the case back to the earlier judge, who will decide whether to stand by his original decision.
The case, which has garnered much criticism from rights groups within and outside Saudi Arabia, came to light in December when the Onaiza judge refused to annul the marriage on a legal technicality. Sheikh Habib Abdallah al-Habib’s dismissal of the mother’s petition for annulment sparked immediate outrage.
HAT TIP: MiddleEastNews
It’s about time Saudi men were forced to use camels or goats or hard cash to pay off their debts instead of little girls.
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But in ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’ school of thought, Saudi prince says, “Islamic Saudi Arabia has no need for women members of parliament or elections.”
There are no political parties in Saudi Arabia but reform activists hope the advisory Shura Council — an all-male body appointed by the king — will be transformed into an elected legislature one day. “Appointing the members always ensures that the best are selected,” Interior Minister Prince Nayef said in comments carried by al-Jazirah daily. “If it was to happen through elections, the members would not have had been this competent.”
Asked if that could include women, he said: “I don’t see the need for that.”
Diplomats say the inner circle of powerful Saudi royals are divided over political reforms. Prince Nayef, half-brother to King Abdullah, is seen as a hawk opposed to changes. Saudi men were allowed to vote for some seats on municipal councils in 2005. The king has promoted cautious reforms as part of an effort to combat radicalism that was launched after the September 11 attacks of 2001. Last month, the king broke with tradition to appoint a woman as deputy education minister.
The royal family rules in alliance with powerful clerics who oversee the application of Islamic sharia law. They say women should cover their faces in public and try to prevent them mixing with unrelated men. Women are barred from driving.
Saudi TV Journalist Nadine Al Bedair says, “There is no time to wait for the Saudi’s to slowly change, they must change now.”
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