Gulf | Saudi Arabia

More than 5,000 child brides in Saudi Arabia

Poor families marry off their daughters to rich older men

  • Staff Report
  • Published: 15:12 November 8, 2012
  • Gulf News

Dubai: More than 5,000 girls below the age of 14 are married off in Saudi Arabia, according to media reports.

There have been 5,622 marriages where the bride is under the age of 14 in Saudi Arabia, said Ali Abdul Rahman Al Roumi, a social services academic at Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University, adding that specifying a legal age would not solve the problem, and may lead to “even bigger problems”.

A number of families from “rural areas” have been marrying their daughters off to older, rich men, according to the Saudi owned Al Hayat newspaper.

“We must solve this, by at least looking at the difference in age in cases where the bride is young, in which case it can be deceptive” he said. He did not specify what period of time that figure represents.

He added however that it was “not a trend”.

Al Roumi disagreed with those who opposed imposing a legal age for marriage, saying it was a necessary step but that exceptions could be made provided that the age difference between the husband and wife was not large, and if it was disclosed how much money was given to the bride’s parents, in an effort to prevent what has been termed as “bride selling” to rich people.

Shura Council member Abdullah Bin Saleh Al Hadeithi said that the ministry of justice is studying the implementation of a legal marriage age, but added that the council has never discussed the issue.

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