Monday, April 13, 2009

You know that there is something wrong in your kingdom...

...when Yemen is progressive in comparison to you.

Last year an 8-year-old girl was granted a divorce in Yemen after her father sold her to a 30-year-old man. Emboldened by such an example, a couple of other girls, aged 9 and 10, got a divorce. The government then tried to do something to prevent such marriages from happening. Where they have been successful or not, I have no idea, but at least they tried and maybe scared a person or two into waiting till their daughter is 12.

In Saudi Arabia, they aren't even trying.

Saudi judge Habib al-Habib has refused for a second time to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, on account of the girl being too young to represent herself in court, and her mother being a non-custodial parent and therefore ineligible to represent her in court. The father, who is the custodial parent, was the guy who arranged her marriage to the 47-year-old man to settle his debts ($8000, says Al-Arabiya), and therefore, I assume, does not wish to represent her in court.

The judge, who obviously thinks that an 8-year-old is not old enough to tell the court what she wants, nevertheless thinks that she is old enough to be married to somebody 39 years her senior, without her consent (by which I not only mean that she is too young to consent, but also that she is clearly not interested).

On the brighter side, the judge did make the man promise not to have sex with the girl until she reaches puberty, and also did tell the girl that she may apply for divorce upon reaching puberty.

The church, I mean mosque, has added its spiritual word:

"It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger. A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her," said the kingdom's grand mufti. For a second there I thought our old friend Khodr Chehab got a part-time in Saudi Arabia, but then I read that the man's name was Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh - may all his 72 heavenly virgins be virgin male elephants.

Being a law-abiding person, I wouldn't even think of connecting any religion's institutions with child molestation, but I suspect that being the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia does connect one to some religion's institutions, in a way. Oh well, at least he did not say it with the intent to cause offense.

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