8-year-old Saudi denied divorce from hubby, 58 

24 Dec 2008, 0102 hrs IST, AFP 

RIYADH: A Saudi court has rejected a plea to divorce an 8-year-old 
girl married off by her father to a man who is 58, saying the case 
should wait 
until the girl reaches puberty, said a lawyer involved the case. 

"The judge has dismissed the plea (filed by the mother) because she 
does not have the right to file such a case, and ordered that the 
plea should be filed by the girl herself when she reaches puberty," 
lawyer Abdullah Jtili said in a telephone interview after Saturday's 
court decision. 

The divorce plea was filed in August by the girl's divorced mother 
with a court at Unayzah, 220 kilometres north of Riyadh just after 
the marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom. 

"She doesn't know yet that she has been married," Jtili said then of 
the girl who was about to begin her fourth year at primary school. 

Relatives who did not wish to be named said that the marriage had not 
yet been consummated, and that the girl continued to live with her 
mother. They said that the father had set a verbal condition by which 
the marriage is not consummated for another 10 years, when the girl 
turns 18. 

The father had agreed to marry off his daughter for an advance dowry 
of 30,000 riyals ($8,000), as he was apparently facing financial 
problems, they said. The father was in court and he remained adamant 
in favour of the marriage, they added. 

Lawyer 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. 

Arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents are occasionally 
reported in the Arabian Peninsula, including in Saudi Arabia where 
the strict conservative Wahabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and 
polygamy is common. 

In Yemen in April, another girl aged eight was granted a divorce 
after her unemployed father forced her to marry a man of 28. 


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