Saudi Arabia Allowing 8 Year Old Girls to Marry Old Men
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent - THE SEOUL TIMES
|Saudi Arabia allowing 8 Year old girls to marry old men|
In the nation of Saudi Arabia the despotic feudal system remains and the rights of girls, women, non-Muslims, Shia Muslims, and others, are violated by the Sunni Islamic justice system. Despite this, major nations still desire to trade with Saudi Arabia and the oil factor and geopolitical issue, appears to override human rights. So when will Saudi Arabia be challenged by the international community?
Before focusing on deeper political issues it is important to mention that laws in Saudi Arabia are based on Sharia Islamic Law and the Hadiths. Therefore, we are not talking about people on the margins of society who have no power, but who support child marriage; on the contrary, we are talking about major political leaders and Sunni Muslim religious leaders who support child marriage.
Therefore, the kingdom’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, supports child marriage and to him, and other Sunni Islamic leaders, they will site the life of Mohammed, who also married a child. Given this, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh supports young girls as young as ten years of age to get married to elderly men. He stated that “It is incorrect to say that it’s not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger.”
The Grand Mufti, of course, will look to Islamic scripture and focus on the Hadiths and then regulate this within Islamic Sharia Law. So he further added that “A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she’s too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her.” While only last month, a Saudi Arabian judge justified the right of an 8-year-old girl to be married to a 47-year-old man. The judge, Sheikh Habib Abdallah al-Habib, refused to annul the marriage after the mother signed a petition against the marriage of her young daughter.
This problem does not only apply to Saudi Arabia because violations like this can be found in many other societies, however, the political ties between major nations and Saudi Arabia is a reality. Also, in other poorer societies the rule of law may either be weak or centralization via the state may not be enforceable. However, in Saudi Arabia, we are talking about the judicial system, leading Sunni Islamic clerics, and of course the government is turning a blind eye to this serious issue.
Today, in Saudi Arabia, and other nations like Yemen, you are seeing grass-roots organizations rising up to challenge the conservative status quo. So some moderate Sunni Muslim clerics are speaking out and the media is also highlighting these cases in order to challenge the system. Therefore, some changes are happening and these brave individuals, organizations, and clerics, need international support.
Wajeha al-Huwaider also spoke out against the violation of human rights in Saudi Arabia. Wajeha al-Huwaider stated that it is essential to stand up against people who want to “keep us backward and in the dark ages.” This brave individual is the co-founder of the Society of Defending Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia. Organizations like this need greater global media coverage and the same applies to economic and political support.
Change of course must come from within but outside nations, institutions, and individuals, must play their part because issues like this must not be held to ransom by any one nation or religious faith. Issues like slavery, religious persecution, child marriages, and other global issues, must come under a global charter.
Of course, it is clear that nations and societies are at different development stages but issues like child marriage and slavery can not be ignored. So nations have a collective responsibility to defend people who are not protected by national laws. This does not imply that direct confrontation is the way, but economic, political, and other pressures must be enforced and the same applies to isolation within international institutions.
If America and the European Union, and other major democracies, are concerned about human rights and social justice, then they must stand up to the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia. After all, conversion from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and not one Buddhist temple or Christian church is allowed in this nation.
When we add religious persecution to child marriage, alongside the persecution of women, then clearly this nation needs to be challenged. The democratic world “must not sell its soul for oil and geopolitics.”After all, the global community ignored the role of Saudi Arabia with regards to global terrorism, and September 11 was the ultimate consequence of this, for the majority of attackers were Saudi nationals. Therefore, violations of human rights will come back to haunt other societies if they keep on turning a blind eye and the issue of child marriage is very serious.
THE SEOUL TIMES