The contentious marriage between a teenage girl and a man more than four times her age has renewed debate in Saudi Arabia about the country's open acceptance of child brides.
Media reports differ on the age of the groom, who has not offered his name to journalists. While many publications list the man as 90 years old, CNN says he is 70. The wife is reported to have been 15 years old, though the husband claimed to CNN that he thought she was 25.
Al Arabiya writes that the groom, who paid a dowry equivalent to $17,500 for the young girl, was outraged when on their wedding night she locked herself in the bedroom and refused to consummate the contract. When the girl, whose name has not been released, returned to her relatives, he reportedly threatened to sue for either the return of his money or his bride.
Gulf News reports that a court in southwestern Saudi Arabia last week granted the couple a divorce, over the objections of her husband.
"I did not want the dowry money back, and I still want my wife to come home,” Gulf News reported him as saying. “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."
The site also writes that the man is already married to a woman in her 80s. The man is also said to have previously married a 15-year-old Yemeni girl, who fled the marriage just weeks after the wedding.
The case has become a new rallying point for advocates against marriages between young girls and older men.
Dr. Suhaila Zein al-Abedin, a member of the Saudi National Association for Human Rights, told CNN that he believes the girl's parents should be held accountable for 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.
According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia currently has no age requirement for marriages, and patriarchs control matches. Some fathers may be more inclined to offer their daughters in marriage to older grooms in return for substantial dowries, the paper reported.
While the Saudi Justice Ministry has reportedly been weighing potential age restrictions, Amnesty International's Middle East spokesman, James Lynch, told Reuters that "until we see actual legislation and how it's implemented, rather than merely fine words, we will continue to have serious concerns about lack of protection for girls from early and forced marriage."
what the f**k is wrong with these countrys
In another disturbing attack in Afghanistan, two men have been arrested after allegedly cutting the throat of a 15-year-old girl and killing her after her father refused a marriage proposal.
The Guardian reports the girl, Nishina, was allegedly attacked in Kunduz province as she returned home from fetching water.
"A guy by the name of Mohammad Sadeq, he is her cousin, he had proposed to her on his brother's behalf, but Nishina and her family refused the proposal," police spokesman Sayed Sawar Hosseini said.
The suspects then allegedly returned two days later and "slit her throat with a knife," Hosseini told Agence France Presse.
The Telegraph reports the girl's father, Mohammad Rahim, rejected the marriage proposal because he felt his daughter was too young to marry. According to the newspaper, a second suspect was present at the scene. Both suspects were reportedly detained in the Kulkul village of the Imam Sahib district, and they lived in the same village as the victim.
Addressing the nation on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called such aggression a "social menace."
"It destroys love, passion and respect," Karzai said in his radio broadcast to the nation, according to the Guardian. "Children who grow up in families that experience violence may be more depressed and violent."
According to Oxfam, 87 percent of Afghan women report having endured "physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage."
In October, 20-year-old Mah Gul was beheaded by in-laws in Afghanistan's western province of Herat after she had repeatedly rejected her mother-in-law's attempts to force her into prostitution, AFP reported. And in September, a 16-year-old girl was publicly whipped in front of village elders and family members for allegedly having an affair
"We do risk going backwards," Afghan campaigner Wazma Frogh said. "One day we hear that women can't travel alone, another that you are a lesser human being, then this about sharia law. But how is that possible in a country where you have a constitution, supreme court, and judiciary?"
Mah Gul, Young Afghan Woman, Reportedly Beheaded For Refusing To Become A Prostitute
A young woman who refused to be forced into prostitution was beheaded in Afghanistan last week, a murder that illustrates the continuing cycle of violence against women in the country, according to advocates in the region.
The murder comes as the world continues to track the progress of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by Taliban Islamists after advocating for women's rights.
AFP reports that 20-year-old Mah Gul, who lived in Herat province in western Afghanistan, was killed after she had repeatedly rebuffed her mother-in-law's attempts to force her into prostitution.
Four people were arrested in connection to the killing, AFP adds, including the alleged beheader, the 18-year-old nephew of Gul's mother-in-law, Najibullah.
Najibullah, who has already confessed to the killing, said that Gul's mother-in-law had alerted him that the girl was a prostitute and that he killed the girl with a knife with the help of her mother-in-law.
The brutal torture and murder of Mah Gul by her husband's family is just "one more incident that highlights the violent atmosphere that women and girls face in Afghanistan and the region," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, according to CNN.
Earlier in October, a 30-year-old woman was tortured and killed in the same province, the Atlantic reported. The woman was discovered missing her nose, ears, and fingers, and doctors who treated her at Herat regional hospital confirmed she had been tortured before being killed. Investigation in ongoing in that case.
Gul's murder brings to 20 the number of women killed this year in Herat, the Atlantic adds reported. Family members were accused of involvement in most of the cases.
In a 2011 report on human trafficking in Afghanistan, the State Department wrote that some Afghan women and girls "are subjected to forced prostitution, forced marriages –- including through forced marriages in which husbands force their wives into prostitution, and where they are given by their families to settle debts or disputes."
In her full statement, Amnesty International's Nossel decried the ongoing violence in forceful terms.
“[Women] are raped, killed, forced into marriage in childhood, prevented from obtaining an education and denied their sexual and reproductive rights," Nossel said. "The enduring view that women and girls are disposable and not equal increases the chronic suffering of more than half the population."
While much is left to be desired, here there and everywhere, I think a distinction should be made at least between the ideal and the reality. If reality falls short of the ideal, it's still better than reality matching no ideal at all. It's better at least to be in a violent culture that recognizes that violence needs to change and is condemned, than to be in a culture where it is perfectly accepted.
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