Monday 16 February 2009 (21 Safar 1430)
Raise awareness to stop underage marriages
Rasheed Albidhani | Okaz
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has recommended to the
Kingdom's higher authorities that orders be issued to stop marriage of young
girls. The HRC proposed making 15 the minimum age at which girls could marry.
The deputy chairman of the commission, Dr. Saleh Al-Kathlan,
said the HRC made the recommendation after following up many cases in the
media, courts and society concerning parents marrying their very young
It is worth mentioning that a number of cases relating to
underage marriages have been brought to courts in recent times. We have also
witnessed family disputes over the issue, especially in Hail, Jizan, Asir and
I believe it to be correct that there is no clear-cut Shariah
rule setting a certain age for a girl's marriage. We cannot, of course, find
justification in the marriages of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to
legalize this issue because some of his marriages were necessitated for
political and religious reasons.
It seems that specifying a minimum age for marriage is a
question of tradition and social needs rather than religious teachings.
No doubt, it is Allah's mercy that He did not impose on us an
age limit for marriage. He has left it open for us to decide.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Saudi Arabia
signed in 1995 and endorsed the next year, defines a child as anyone under the
age of 18. This age was set in the light of studies conducted by specialists in
biology and psychology and is not at all contradictory to the principles of
This definition means that if we marry our daughters when
they are younger than 18, we are actually marrying children. This is a sin.
When we marry a young girl to a very old man, this is a bigger sin.
When we think of marrying our daughters, we have to consider
everything that would make them happy, including the suitability of the age of
We want to see our daughters highly educated in order to
participate in the process of nation building. We want to have women doctors,
teachers, nurses and others. Advanced studies need complete dedication. Some
girls will not be able to meet the requirements of both study and marriage at
the same time. So one of the two might be doomed to failure. If this is so for
mature girls, what would be the case of children?
Marrying girls under the age of 18 means we are actually
marrying children who are not physically or emotionally ready for marriage. The
end result will be victimizing the girls and ruining their married life.
To resolve this problem we need to spread awareness in
society so that we do not marry girls who are not mature enough for conjugal
union. We can make laws that will stop parents trading their daughters for
money or to settle their debts while the little girls will only suffer in agony