Saudi-Arabia er offisielt mot barneekteskap, dvs. at man gifter bort jenter helt ned i 1 år. Skilsimisseprosenten har steget fra 25 til hele 60 prosent de siste tyve år. Det tyder på at noe ikke fungerer.

There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman’s consent is legally required, some marriage officials do not seek it. For example, a father can marry off a 1-year-old girl as long as sex is delayed until she reaches puberty, said one marriage official, Ahmad al-Muabi.

Known as «ma’thoons,» these officials have legal authority to preside over marriage contract ceremonies. They ask the groom and the woman’s guardian if they approve of the marriage and then give them the marriage papers to sign.

There are no statistics to show how many marriages involving children are performed every year. And it’s also not clear whether these unions are on the rise or whether people are hearing about them more now because of the prevalence of media outlets and easy access to the Internet.

But the phenomenon is not new, said Sheik Muhammad al-Nujaimi, a strong opponent of the marriages. He and other clerics, activists and writers have urged the government to pass legislation setting the minimum age for marriage and to resolve differences among the kingdom’s religious authorities over the issue.

«There are different (religious) opinions regarding the marriages which is why we need the government to settle the issue through legislation,» said al-Nujaimi.

Det at det ikke kommer noen avklaring, gjør at barnekteskapene får fortsette. Det må bety at kongefamilien og de toneangivende imamene ønsker å beholde praksisen, eller at de ikke tør innskrenke den.

Calls for end to Saudi child marriages