Tags: saudi | marries | 70 | 15

Saudi Man, 70, Marries 15-Year-Old Girl, But Says He Was Swindled

Tuesday, 08 Jan 2013 07:11 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A 70-year-old Saudi man who recently married a 15-year-old girl is now attempting to get his $20,000 dowry back after the young bride fled back to her family immediately after the wedding.

According to local reports, the girl locked her elderly husband out of their bedroom on their wedding night, refusing to grant him access while she managed to escape back to her family.

The groom, who refused to give his name to reporters, says he is considering legal action as a means to retrieve either the girl or his dowry from her family.

The case is gaining international attention after a Saudi human rights organization that objected to the union, equating it with human trafficking or child abuse, brought it to the attention of major news outlets.

Since then, prominent human rights activists throughout the Arab world have taken to Twitter to voice their outrage over the union in the context of a larger issue of so-called "child-marriage" throughout the Muslim world in which significantly older men pay the families of young girls to let them wed them.

Yemeni activist Noon Arabia tweeted, "child marriage is a violation of human rights," while Egyptian activist Kareem Bassem tweeted, "child marriage is a result of dehumanizing female humans and degrading them to 'treats' in alleged paradise. Fight dehumanization!"

Prominent Egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy, a CNN contributor, also tweeted, "It's only when there's enough public outrage that we can fight child marriage. We are not angry enough to help that 15-year-old and others like her."

Eltahawy gained national media attention in September, 2012 when she was arrested after spray painting a pro-Israeli activist attempting to deface an anti-jihad ad in a New York City subway.

Dr. Suhaila Zein al-Abedin of the state-funded Saudi National Association for Human Rights also was outraged about the case.

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

A series of recent "child marriages" has been covered international news outlets, including one forced union between a 60-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl.

Restrictions on such unions have been fought by conservative religious scholars in the Middle East, according to the BBC.

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