Manama: A Saudi ruling has put an end to a marriage between a 90-year-old man and his 15-year-old bride.
The verdict pronounced last week by a court in south western Saudi Arabia marked the conclusion of a bitter dispute between the man and his bride’s family that lasted several months.
The case started when the would-be groom proposed to the teenager and offered her parents, a Saudi father and Yemeni mother, a 45,000 riyal dowry (Dh44,074) and said that he would fund the celebrations, sources told Saudi daily Al Yawm.
The father reportedly accepted the offer and agreed to the marriage despite the huge age difference between the bride and the groom.
However, the marriage was never consummated after the bride locked herself in a room following the celebrations, and refused to allow her husband in.
The bride, who was not named, spent the night crying and in the early morning, the groom called her family to “reason” with her.
When her relatives arrived, she opened the door and they were shocked to find her in tears. They also found out that she had torn her wedding dress in distress, the daily said.
The distraught family took the bride home and refused to compromise with the groom.
When he later visited them to take his calmed wife home, the family refused, leading the man to ask for the dowry to be returned.
The family said that they had spent it and that they did not have any money to give back, prompting him to take the case to court.
Following several sessions, the court last week ruled the end of the marriage, but said that the family had to give the dowry back.
However, the 90-year-old said that the case was still open and that the divorce had been pronounced by the leader of the tribe and not by an official judge.
“I did not want the dowry money back, and I still want my wife to come home,” he said. “I am going to take the case to a court this week to rule on the conspiracy by the family to take my money. My wife’s family have now taken her out to Riyadh so that I cannot reach her,” he said.
The man attributed his decision to get married to the old age of his first wife.
“She is past her 80s now and it has been a long time since we lived as husband and wife. I have decided to take up a new wife,” he said.
The paper, quoting sources close to the case, said that the man’s wedding with the 15-year-old girl was not his first with an adolescent.
“Around 18 months ago, he married a Yemeni girl who was also 15 years old,” the sources said. “She stayed with him for about one month before fleeing and seeking help from a village dignitary.”
However, the elderly man told the daily that his Yemeni bride did not abscond from home and that he divorced her.