Saudis to Crack Down After Man Weds 8-Year-Old

Child marriages will be 'regulated'; no evidence they'll be barred
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 15, 2009 8:54 AM CDT
A Saudi man, right, buys a wedding dress at a shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Amid an uproar over an adult man’s marriage to an 8-year-old girl, Saudi Arabia will begin regulating child marriage, the BBC reports. The country’s justice minister wants to end the “arbitrary” process, he said, though he didn’t say such matches would be banned. A court upheld the marriage provided the husband—whose age has been reported as 47 and 60—doesn’t have sex with the girl until after she reaches puberty.

Sunni law practiced in Saudi Arabia lets fathers marry their kids off to anyone they choose. Poverty motivates many, say human-rights activists; families have been accused of essentially selling their daughters into marriage. The 8-year-old’s father apparently wanted the dowry in order to repay debts, observers say. She isn’t living with the man and, and she can seek a divorce after reaching puberty, a judge said.
(Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)