Saudi Arabia: Interior Ministry Favors New Guidelines Against Child Marriages

child bride

New guidelines have been drafted by the Ministry of Interior and submitted to the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars which levies greater restrictions on the ease and ability for women 16 or under to marry.  The Ministry, in conjunction with discussions from representatives of the Ministry of Justice, physicians and social workers believe the guidelines are necessary in the best interest of the young girl.

American Bedu is positively ecstatic to learn of this proposal as Saudi Arabia has had too many incidents of child brides (ranging from age 9 to early teens) having arranged marriages before they are either physically or mentally ready for such a commitment.

According to the article which appeared in maktoob news, the Ministry guidelines are as follows:

  • Guardians of girls under 16 must apply to a judge in a special court to obtain a waiver for them to marry.
  • A female obstetrician/gynecologist, a psychiatrist and social worker must submit a signed medical report.
  • Evidence must be provided that the girl is mentally and physically mature.
  • The girl also must consent to the marriage and have permission from her mother.

Only a judge has the ability to grant a waiver to marry.

According to Ministry of Justice official, Fahd Al-Bakran, there are six pending requests of marriages to teenaged brides.  Sadly, attempts to confirm the statistics of child marriages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not available through such web sites as Unicef  or Wikipedia although other media reports cite that there have been more than 5000 girls under the age of 14 who have been married off by their families.

It is hoped that the guidelines to regulate marriage coming from the Ministry of Interior will in fact be enforced.


6 Responses

  1. Wonderful, a tep in the right direction

  2. Good step. However, there are some issues still :

    – From my readings it seems they avoided to put teeth behind the law. There are no penalties for violators including the groom, the father or the minister who performs the wedding. This may be intentional to avoid strong resistance in the short term.
    – It is still not clear whether judges will ignore the recommendations. Saudi judges are notorious for interpreting the religious rulings interdependently. So some of the hardliner judges may completely disregard the recommendation and rubber stamp these marriages without the proper steps outlined in the article.

  3. Sounds good but if you don’t have penalties that go along with non-compliance then the law is useless.

  4. I think MoQ is correct about this. So, we will need to wait and see how the law in enforced.

  5. I hope that photo of child “bride” was just “pretend”????

  6. I hope so…. found it years ago on google and have used it generally with any post re child brides

    On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 7:48 PM, American Bedu

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