Saturday, 2 May 2009

Girl, 8, gets divorced in Saudi Arabia

An eight-year-old girl from Saudi Arabia has been granted a divorce from her 50-year-old husband.
The case has prompted the kingdom to re-evaluate its conservative attitudes to marriage.
The girl's marriage was arranged by her father and backed twice by a judge on the condition that it was not consummated until she reached puberty.
Her mother, who is separated from the father, objected to the arrangement and twice sought a divorce on her daughter's behalf. It was refused both times by the judge, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, after the girl's husband refused to agree.
The judge did say that when the girl reached puberty she could herself seek a divorce.
The case was widely publicised and prompted heated debate in the country, which is currently giving more rights to women than have previously been granted. It was also condemned by human rights groups abroad.
King Abdullah, seen as a reformist, appointed the first ever woman deputy minister earlier this year.
One of his advisers, Mohsen al-Obaikan, an Islamic scholar, went public to demand that a legal age for marriage be set at 18. The justice ministry said it was considering reforming the law, which until now has given no minimum.

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