A 90-year-old Saudi Arabian man is suing the family of his 15-year-old bride after she shut herself in her bedroom on their wedding night. She locked the door from the inside so that he could not enter. Two days later she fled to her parents’ home.
Now the elderly man wants his money back, saying he paid more than $16,000 dowry to her Saudi mother and Yemeni father, so he could marry the teenager.
Needless to say the news has garnered some very prickly reaction from the world over, including Saudi Arabia itself!
Saudi human rights activist, Suhaila Zein el-Abedin, said the case underlined the need for the country to establish a minimum age of 18 for marriage. She told Al Arabiya authorities should intervene "as soon as possible to save this child from tragedy", noting that marriage in Islam should be through mutual consent.
Need a resolution for 2013? Raise your voice throughout the year and tell the world of the urgent need to #endchildmarriage— Girls Not Brides (@GirlsNotBrides) January 7, 2013
Unfortunately, child marriages are not unheard of in many parts of the world including Africa, Asia, Oceania, Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela etc. The reasons usually given are customs and traditions (pertaining to importance of virginity and fertility cycles etc), that usually (though not always) have only one underage marriage-partner, usually the female.
UNICEF defines child marriage as ‘a formal marriage or informal union before age 18, is a reality for both boys and girls,’ although girls are disproportionately the most affected.
About a third of women aged 20-24 years old in the developing world were married as children.
Research says 142 million girls (under the age of 18) will marry over the next decade. That’s 38,000 girls married every day for the next 10 years!
Girls younger than 15, are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s, states a research. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women ages 15 to 19. They also face a higher risk of getting infected by HIV because they often marry older men with more sexual experience.
The following video by the International Center for Research on Women(ICRW) is an eye opener: