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UPDATE: 70-year-old Saudi man divorces 15-year-old bride

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A shameful episode that cast a negative light on Saudi Arabia has been satisfactorily concluded. The 70-year-old man who complained he had a right to the arranged marriage of his 15-year-old bride has since ended in divorce.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As was reported on this Web site, the case created a hue and cry that prompted action by Saudi Arabia's Human Rights Commission. The elderly gentleman in question maintains that his bride's family fooled him into paying a $20,000 dowry but then took their daughter back.

The commission says that the couple fought and she ran away, back to her family.

There is no law stipulating a minimum age for marriage in Saudi Arabia. The issue has been a tug of war between the country's legal system and religious leaders for several years.

The commission sent an investigator to the teenage bride's home in Al-Hurath village in Jizan province, near the border with Yemen.

Dr. Hadi Al-Yami, who runs the commission's branch that covers that area, told CNN that the group sent an investigator to a courthouse where the man had complained to a local official. The commission then reached out to the girl's family, offering legal help.

Commission President Dr. Bandar Alaiban said a meeting had taken place with the parents, man and the girl.

"A divorce has taken place, and the dispute has now been resolved amicably," he says.

The marriage created widespread dissent among human rights groups and activists.

Dr. Suhaila Zein al-Abedin of the Saudi National Association for Human Rights voiced concern about the age difference, as well as the circumstances behind the marriage.

"When you consider the very large difference in age, it looks more like this was not a marriage, but like the girl was sold," al-Abedin said. "The girl's parents need to be held responsible for this."

Prominent Egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy tweeted, "It's only when there's enough public outrage that we can fight #childmarriage. We are not angry enough to help that 15 y/o & others like her."

Yemeni activist NoonArabia tweeted, "#ChildMarriage is a violation of human rights.

Cries against the sexual exploitation of women has gained international impetus after a Indian coed died after being brutally raped aboard a speeding New Delhi bus last month.

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