17 April 2008

Married and Divorced at 8 Years Old

It is one thing to be appreciative of cultural differences but forcing 8-year old children into arranged marriages just strikes me as being plain wrong! An 8-year old marrying a bloke who is 30 years old is sad. This is not an issue of difference in age, I have nothing against a 50-year old marrying someone who is 18 years old if this is what they want to do as consulting adults. I do take issue with parents who force their children into arranged marriages at 8 years old!

It would seem that a Judge in Yemen also has a problem with the concept albeit the decision handed down is interesting. In Yemen parents can sign their kids over into an arranged marriage where the child is under 15. However, the marriage cannot be consummated until the child reaches puberty. I am sure that there are probably cases where children reach puberty at 8 years old and they are probably as rare as hen's teeth!

The judge apparently sympathised with the girl and granted her petition for divorce. Her testimony as a child of trying to flee a man intent on having sex with her was undoubtedly harrowing. The man for his part provided testimony to the fact that "she is my wife and I can do whatever I want with her". Although the girl claimed rape in marriage, she was never likely to be successful on this front as Yemeni law apparently does not recognize rape in marriage. The judge got around this by stating that the girl had not reached puberty. It should be noted that Yemeni law does not provide a punishment for those that consummate a marriage before the girl reaches puberty.

The interesting part of the decision is that the judge also ordered that the girl's family pay compensation to the now ex-husband! No reasons were offered but presumably this was for the inconvenience of having to go through the divorce. The child was also removed from the custody of the family!

I am going to have to read more about Yemeni law!


M said...


what do u do for living *question mark*

GJ said...

NO NO NO!!! This is just not sad this is down right sick. Children need to be children, this appears no more the some type of legalise pedophilia. Why???

Rob Baiton said...

Lawyer working as a Managing Editor at an Internet-based Publisher specializing in Indonesian law...

Previously working in Aboriginal Legal Aid in Australia...


Rob Baiton said...

It is legalized pedophilia without a doubt. But I guess if your law and religious tenets permit such then your arguments will always be that this is OK!

It is not OK in my mind, it will never be OK in my mind! Children do not just need to have the space to be children but this space must be jealously protected, in the sense that it is not to be invaded by anyone in the manner that it seems that Yemen permits.

It's wrong and the law needs to make it wrong and then punish those who choose to breach the law!

m said...

nottin, just curious. i really thought you are a professional blogger. you update blog many times in a day. amazing. you should teach me how to share time. or should i choose to work like you?

hehe. but rock Rob!

LavanyaLea said...

it is sad, but prophet mohammad also married his muse aisha at 6-7 and it was consummated at age 9! he was in his 50s! (a lot of discrepancies here, some people say she was 12) and it was also common practice to marry girls at age 14-16 in Europe in the middle ages, no?

it is a peculiar case, who asked for the divorce in the first place, was it the 8yr old girl?