If you were to ask me as a Saudi woman from one of the most conservative regions of Saudi Arabia, ‘What is the one change that you would like to see?’, there are many that come to mind: allowing women to drive cars, allowing women to enter government buildings, opening up more employment options to women and lifting the guardianship system under which every woman (no matter how old she is) has to have a male guardian everywhere she goes.
But when I get right down to it, there is one change that I would like to see happen yesterday: the criminalization of child marriages…Read on here
Tell the Saudi minister of justice what you think of child marriages by using the Twitter hashtag#Saudichildbrides, and sign this petition calling on the minister to set a legal age for marriage, so that we can prosecute parents and guardians who willingly give or sell their daughters to a pedophile.
53 responses to “Saudi Justice Ministry: Ban Child Brides!”
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Of the good and civilised ideas that collide as usual with the the traditions stumbling stone..
Thank you for the info!
And thank you Eman for writing the petition!
Great job hon! This is an important cause, and I thank you for starting it ❤
How old has to be the person, If she/he wants to get married? What do you think?
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Thanks for letting everyone know.
hopefully we’ll see an end of this practice very soon.
I physically feel ill when I think of a child being forced to marry while they are still a child. When I think of the great capacity within humankind and how this ability to excel is overlook in favor of selfish desires and lust, I wonder when humankind will allow the innate flow of the higher spiritual force to help us lead our globe.
I, as a survivor of Mk-Ultra understand the deep need for a collective human determination to structure a better world. I further understand that a better world means stronger laws which are enforced. The dignity of a child should be regarded as a sacred right. Let’s always honor the blessings that each child brings into the world.
Could a sixteen year old girl be considered a child???
That depends on her mental maturity. Not every 16- years old girls are ready for responsibility and family life. I would even go so far to say that most 16 years old are not actually ready for that at all. I know of young girls who pushed their parents to get married, but then realized they had made a mistake… well… to late.
Furthermore, when a girl is so young she is more likely to be forced in some way or another and there is no normally gifter 16 years old girl who would willingly, without any financial or social pressure, marry a man 20 years older than her. Therefore, I am for a age limit on marriage because there is a need for it… there are some evil people out there who view their daghters as goods and they need to be protected from them!
That’s true that a 16 year old girl is not mature enough for bearing the responsibilities of a marriage, but what if one is living in a country where there is more permissiveness regarding the free mixing of opposite genders? For instance, I live in an Islamic Republic and there are no laws which restrict women for observing purdah or go out with a mahram. I have had debates with many people over the issue of early marriages. To me, when a girl can get involve into physical relationships during her teenage, what’s the harm in getting her married? With the girl’s consent of course. I mean, with so much awareness these days, girls all over the world are not naive and childlike when they enter their teens. Might sound like a sweeping generalization, but I observe that teenagers know a lot more these days and are way more maturer, as compared to the time when I was a teenager. (I am 24 now, mashaAllah).
But I strongly agree to your viewpoint that there shouldn’t be this horrible age difference between husband and wife. The whole notion is simply horrible!
@Sarah B. Haider
No, I don’t see that there is such a great need for 16 years old girls to get married since the main reason for that would be their desires (as you yourself mentioned). Marriage is not just desires. It is maturity, responsibility, children, rights and duties. After studying this subject with shuyookh I realized that a lot of Muslims views that marriage is a religious duty and what not regardless of the situation is wrong. Marriage ranges from the hukm of haram to fard and everything between that depending on the man/womans situation and what they are capable of. I would never recommend a teenager to get married, but to have patience for a couple of years to mature and really get to know who they themselves are and what they want from life. Most young teenagers get a chock when they get married and then they are not capable of bearing the role as a wife/husband. I’ve seen it before…
I think an age limit of 15/18 would be ideal, with the possibility for an exception for those over 15 years if given by the judge etc and if there is some kind of a need. That would close the doors of abuse and exploitation. Don’t people realize that selling your daughter for her mahr is prostitution!? If people are going to abuse Allah’s shariah, then we have to restrict their possibilities to do that… and an age limit for marriage is the best way for it to take an abrupt end for child abuse and prostitution.
I would be interested in how the dowries are ending up in the hands of the parents. Isn’t the money for the bride in islam? I thought it was in the Quran, so how is the Shariah working in these cases and is it considered correct or incorrect? Do the jurists claim the money doesn’t belong to the bride? Am I wrong it’s in the Quran? Do people accept this as proper?
The mahr, dowry, is the woman’s right without any exception. The problem is that people pick and choose what they want to follow from Allah’s shariah and that always end up in opression. Islamic law must be applied in its total or these kind of situations will come up. It is ignorance, poverty and lack of religious commitment first and foremost. Don’t you think that every single man in KSA knows that the mahr is the womans right? But do you think they actually care about that when they don’t see a problem in selling their daughters as prostitutes (in disguise of “marriage”)?
So, Saudi doesn’t follow shariah? I mean, for example, in the U.S. it is illegal to take orphans in and then take the money the state gives you to care for them and not spend it on them. You would be prosecuted if the gov’t were informed. Why isn’t it that simple in Saudi? Why can’t the bride bring a complaint in court somehow? If she does, what happens? I am curious as to why shariah law nowhere seems to be shariah (especially for women) and what that is like for the muslims who live under it.
This is a common practice ( though hidden) not in just KSA, but in the whole Muslim World and even the Asian countries. There are two reasons for this to exist: Poverty and Ignorance. Apart from actions by the Ministry of Justice, extreme actions need to be taken to conquer these two also. Also, to create a law and to IMPLEMENT it properly are two different things.
Couple of years ago, we heard of availability of ” Housemaid” visas for Russians. I know many guys that were totally thrilled by the idea. One guy even presented this thought: Imagine, I can bring in a Russian maid. She will be my slave. And from her, if I have a few half Russian daughters.. I would get a dowry of XX amount for each one.. man.. good money.
I thought that was a sick joke.. but discovered that he was actually SERIOUS~~~~~~!
How do you reply to that???? This is the Ignorance of this man responding to his need for money. So , first counter his ignorance, then his need for money.
I was at a gathering ( semi – informal) , and the Minister of Justice was there also. Let me tell you, the Shaikh ( another prominent and influential figure) that was giving the talk to some prominent religious people WAS fighting ignorance in the most amazing manner. And, the Minister of Justice supported his talk. More than you and me, these gentlemen realize what is going on – and they have to work on multiple issues to resolve a single issue.
What you are doing here is good and I hope it leads to good Eman. Allah Ma3kum.
I fully agree to the fact that the practice of dowry is rampant all over the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan and India. Since I belong to the former, I know the unlawful practice of dowry which is very common in our society. It is a prevalent norm here that the bride’s father has to arrange for a lot of things to give to his daughter whether he can afford it or not. for instance, my elder sister got married five years ago, and my father had to arrange for a bedroom set of furniture, a drawing room set of furniture, two heavy sets of gold jewelry, TV, refrigerator, microwave oven, etc. Almost everything. In Pakistan, most people are salaried and do not have bank balances. In these circumstances, my father was left with no option but to apply for a loan in a local bank on interest. Marriage is an religious obligation, but the societal structure and practices like that of dowry has made life a hell for many people. Nowadays, many girls are doing jobs themselves to save money to get married. The teachings of Islam are long forgotten, and yet we are the one’s to consider ourselves the saviors of Islam. As far as my scarce knowledge of Islam tells me, dowry is not an obligation to please the bridegroom’s family. Or is it??
A man that takes a dowry , or even considers it.. is simply NOT a man. HE has to pay a dowry and provide for the wife. If a Muslim man tells me that economy or circumstances put him in that position, I have nothing but a punch for his face. A solution is there and if Muslims cannot take the solution, then any humiliation they face.. they deserve.
A woman decides her dowry when she is getting married and it is for HER security, not her father’s. If the father demands it, again.. PUNISHMENT. And considering the current scenario.. SEVERE punishments.
I wish I was there to advise your father Sarah. And, I would have a few things to say and do to your brother in law if he actually took all this and wanted it!
Stop insulting Paki/Indian men, because they get to take the dowry. The point is not taking the dowry or not, the point is selling children, whether the money goes to the bride’s family or the groom’s.
جيت تكحلها عميتها الله يهديك
I feel like I read an entirely different Quran sometimes. I could swear I read it in the Quran, not the hadith, than the groom has to pay something, what he can afford, to the bride and provide for her. He has to provide her a home and care for the children. She may do this if she wishes, but her money is hers and she does not have to support her husband/family. She guards and cares for what he brings. Was I crazy when I thought I read this?
Yes Alicia that’s the islamic teaching, but not all muslims follow the teachings.
I’m confused as to how islamic teaching isn’t the law in an Islamic country with an islamic judiciary. Out of more curiosity…if the bride is given her dowry, does she get to control it? Can she open a bank account etc? If her parents keep the money but she knows it is hers, can she sue her parents for it? And win? If she doesn’t is there a high court she can appeal to and force them to read the Quran?
I read two arguments (of sunni schools): one that says the money is totally for the bride. The other says the father (and only the father) can take some, although in principle the money is for the bride.
They base that on the Quran, “Give women THEIR dowry… If THEY chose to share with you.. take it..” (my poor translation of surah#4)
and a hadith, “you and what you own for you father”.
But, sue her parent? For dowry money? Unthinkable. And for your information, it’s not that much money, it’s about the price of an average car. However, let’s assume she did, in Saudi Arabia, she’d need a male to represent her.. Like who?? See Saudiwoman’s older posts..
For your first question, islamic teaching isn’t a law in an islamic country. First, KSA is not really an islamic country, it’s a tribal one. Second, most of the time, there are many POVs in islamic judiciary itself, and some of them are conflicting and irrelevant to our times, and we have to come up with something new. Third, like everywhere else, but especially in Saudi Arabia, most laws just remain on paper.
Thanks for writing the petition-I just signed it and forwarded it to some friends!
I can’t enter your particular petition to sign it, although I can enter other petitions on that website.
**You have my full support**
This is a reply to your earlier comment to Ali
No, every Muslim should criticize men who lack fear of Allah or religious commitment when they take something which is not theirs. That is stealing, whether it is from a stranger or your own daughter or sister. The money is for the bride. But you are right, we have to seperate the mahr-issue from the “muslim” version of prostitution and human trafficking.
I couldn’t reply earlier (no reply button), but thanks for the information. It is very helpful in my quest. As an American convert I try to follow the Quran as much as I can and I often feel I am at odds with most muslims for it. I am always looking for clues as to why. I have to read in english so I cannot be sure if the translation is what is throwing me off. I also wonder about the cultural aspects. As an American I sincerely feel the best of the enlightenment work and the Quran are compatible, mostly (not everything about the free markets and liberal laws, obviously). Many Americans seem to want to follow Arabic countries as examples of islam rather than forge islam as compatible with American culture (I don’t mean the drinking, posturing and partying, obviously). But they seem to just assume it is correct without asking how the traditions were formed.
oops, the above was a comment to Saudi Liber Ali in response to an earlier post! But I appreciate Smurf Burken’s comments too! I think you make a good point that world wide muslims need to condemn truly bad behaviour by other muslims. Actually, we all need to do so; muslim or non-muslim.
This matter could be resolved much faster if people went to streets to protest. There is no denying the fact that it is dangerous. But children’s lives are at risk every day! The only thing you need is a saudi arabia Irena Sandler.
You do not go out to the streets in Saudi Arabia, Alexandra. But you can certainly write petitions.
Times are changing. It’s obvious:
This is a very good initative! Child marriage is truly horrific. When it comes to the age of when marriage should be allowed, I think it is a sensitive issue. There is a difference between having sex and between getting married. In my country, we are allowed to have sex when ever we chose after the age of 15, and of course only if we give our consent to it: but we are not allowed to marry before we are 18. This is a realistic law which workes well, but I imagine that the culture i Saudiarabia is not yet progressive enough to handle such a law – it would be abused because women are not equal enough. 18 is a good age, but arranged marriages should be banned regardless of age.
sleeping with 100 men before marriage is ok? but to get married with 16 (even If both are agreed) should be banned? This is realistic????? OMG :S
I’m not sure it’s “progressive” to allow sex without marriage (culturally or legally). In the US we think it’s so because we think the individual has inalienable rights, but we don’t seem to extend that to children. In Islam, you don’t have an inalienable right to sex because you can produce children that way and children have rights too. We believe we solve the problem of “accidental pregnancy” with abortion or adoption, but is that really a just solution? Can a 15 year old really understand the ramifications of sexual intimacy, pregnancy, abortion and other family issues? Do they need all of this while they should be in school, developing their minds and character?
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If you look again, I was not commenting on the post but REPLYING to a comment.. a comment about men wanting dowry for marriage. And I will insult any man, Pak/ Indian/ Saudi.. who takes money from a woman to marry her. As for children being sold.. that is the POST of the blogger and my comment on it is ON IT.
Good to be Smart.. but not too smart.. because it makes one RIDICULOUS..
ولد، اسمع الكلام، الاعتراف بالحق فضيلة
It is common knowledge that any man who takes money from a woman under various pretexts to draw it is called a gigolo. There is a wonderful Russian-Ukrainian movie on this burning) topic called “After two hares”. It’s hilarious!
Returning to the subject I must say that there is not such a thing as child marriages because it is not marriage – it’s rape. If the state choose not to ban the rape of children…so much for the state and its promises.
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I’ve been following your blog for several months. I think you are fantastic!
There are several issues in KSA, and in the Muslim nation as whole. Women’s issues are used to divert the masses attention from the core issues. That is, lack of a real religious leader and unity among the Muslims. If you look at the goverments aroung the Muslim world you will notice that all of them are corrupt and when they use shariah, they use it for an agenda. There has been a degeneration in the Muslim nation for a very long time, that’s why I myself among others are calling for a reform. Not in the Islamic scriptures themselves, rather the mentality and attitudes people have when they read them and interpret them. I lecture in the local mosque about Islam. A woman came to learn more about her religion, and the theme for the lectures are marriage. So we look at what marraige means in Islam, its purpose and goals, its legal aspects and so forth. A marriage contract is invalid without a dowry. So when the woman went home she commented that she had not known about the dowry and she had not recieved one even though her husband knew well that she in entaitled to one. My husband then told me that the man had complained that he sent her wife to learn more about Islam, and “instead came home and talked about dowry”…. You see the problem here?
What do you think would reform such a system? It sounds to me like the problem is not enough participation by women. Ie, women are segregated and/or kept ignorant so men can decide what islam is.
“What do you think would reform such a system?”
I believe united action only. There is no other way. Go to the streets, people.
I think of all the things we have gone to the streets about over here in the US and it doesn’t seem to be doing us much good. Is it just me or do the governments seem to be really unresponsive to the needs and wishes of the people. Or is it that we can’t reach enough people? Do we need to change the system or is it us? God will not change the condition of a people until they change the condition of their heart.
Yes you are right. Women need to participate in society and given room to be able to crush the ultra-partriarchal system in the Muslim world. However, that does not mean that women should abandon their family, take of their hijab or start imitating men. I am not for a western type of feminism. Rather, I want women to be able to participate in society just lite men because that is not something against our religion. We need to educate women first and foremost in religious matters. If you know your religion, you will know what is wrong and what is right and you will now what is Islam and what is culture and how the scriptures can be interpreted based on the interpreters cultural background.
Nowadays, you have Muslims who say that a good Muslim women covered with niqab should not be seen nor heard and they state the athar from Fatima who said that the best woman is the woman who do not see men and men do not see her. But what could that possibly mean? Does it have to be that women are not seen in society alltoghether? No, I would rather say that it means that men and women lower their gaze and cover up properly (just like it says in the Holy Quran). I DO NOT agree with everything al Ghamidi has said (far from that, actually) but one very intelligent comment he said was that women are covered up so that they will be ABLE to participate in society, and not to further limit them. What is the point with hijab then? Wa Allahu al Mustan.
To Saudi Injustice Ministry: Ban Child Rapes!
This is the first time I’ve read your blog and it is really informative and wonderful. Child marriage is a crime that should be punished not considered legal.
I agree with you, subuhi. Child marriages do not have a place in any society in this world.
I applaud you for writing this piece of article and keep up the good fight.
stop this crime
The Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) marriage to Aisha (RA) remains the elephant in the room. He married her when she was nine. Why ignore it and sweep it under the carpet? By criminalising this type of marriage, you are making the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) a criminal.