Saudi Arabia is caught in the vise of duality since society gives parents extensive control not only of who their daughters will marry, but at which age the marriage will occur. There are numerous examples of a young child being married to an older man because parents need or desire the marriage. Recently, a court refused to nullify the marriage of an 8 year old girl to a 58 year old man. Justice Minister Mohamed al-Issa believes the government has to prevent this sort of abuse. He said the justice ministry aims to “put an end to arbitrariness by parents and guardians in marrying off minor girls.” However, he did not indicate support for ending the very concept that parents could marry off a little girl. A court last week upheld for the second time the marriage of the Saudi girl to the older man.
Many clerics will oppose any changes in denying parents the right to make decisions concerning the marriage of young girls. The UN organization, UNICEF, noted: “Irrespective of circumstances or the legal framework, the marriage of a child is a violation of that child’s rights.” Oh well, this is Saudi Arabia, a bastion in the fight against terrorism and undemocratic forces.