In the Saudi culture, it is not beyond the norm for an older man to take a younger bride. However, the recent marriage of a 90-year-old man to a 15-year-old girl is raising the ire of folks around the globe, with many saying that the union is a human rights violation, Al Arabiya News reports.
According to the unidentified groom, he feels his marriage to the young girl is legal and that he paid her parents a handsome dowry for her, SAR 65,000 (or $17,500). The nonagenarian described his wedding night to Al Arabiya: The child entered their bedroom before he did, then immediately locked the door behind her so that he could not enter. She locked herself in the bedroom for a solid two days before running back to her parent’s home because she was reportedly frightened out of her wits.
The man felt as if the girl and her mother had plotted the scenario and that it was some kind of conspiracy against him. Now, the elderly man is planning on suing his in-laws to get the girl back or demand that they return his dowry monies .
The Saudi National Association for Human Rights (NSHR) has intervened in the matter and one of its members, Suhaila Zein al-Abedin, plans on escalating the case to authorities so that they can “as soon as possible save this child from tragedy.” According to al-Abedin, a marriage in the Muslim world must be consensual and it was apparent that the child was not a willing participant.
He is placing the blame on the girl’s parents and feels they should be held responsible for marrying off their daughter to a man who could be her great-grandfather. He is working towards establishing a minimum age requirement for matrimony of 18-years-old and any violation of this would be punishable by law.
Marriage is viewed in many Arab countries as a daughter’s destiny. Relatives arrange marriages primarily to get rid of a mouth to feed and girls who refuse to agree to a forced marriage are often seen by their families as rebellious and shameful. According to the UN, about 5,000 women and girls around the world are murdered by their relatives each year for disobeying their families’ wishes. These murders are known as honor killings.
Psychologist Jamal al-Toueiki told Al Arabiya news that marriages that are forced upon young and unwilling girls, often with calamitous end results. The girls can face abuse by their spouses, which could drive them to suicide.