Saudi Arabia is witnessing social and legal debates over reported cases of minor girls' marriages. During the past few months local press reported several cases of minor girls being wed to men who were of the ages of their fathers or grandfathers.
Earlier in October, the official Human Rights Commission urged civil groups and the media to stand against such marriages. It said that marrying young girls to older men violates children's rights stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child of which the Kingdom is a signatory.
Naeema Al Zamil, chairperson of a charity and social works society, Wood for Charity Work and Social Solidarity, told on Friday: "During a four-year period we have discovered five cases of marriages of female minors whose age ranged between 10 and 12." In some cases they discovered that the minor wife is less than 14 years old and has a child.
"We cannot intervene and stop this kind of marriage as official legislation does not ban them despite press statements and promises made by officials stating that legislation banning these marriages will be announced soon," she pointed out.
She said in most cases the parents and the minor girls agree on the marriage proposal. She noted that they are focusing on awareness campaigns and training courses targeting all society segments.
Suhaila Zain Al Abdeen, a member of the non-official National Human Rights Society, said minors' marriage contradicts international agreements signed by the Saudi government.