10:03 GMT06 June 2020
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    Saudi Arabia could approve a new law that would prevent girls under the age of 18 from getting married. Previous attempts did not end successfully. Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti said there was nothing wrong with girls below 15 getting married.

    MOSCOW, December 26 (Sputnik) – The Shura Council of Saudi Arabia might approve a new draft law that would prevent girls under the age of 18 from getting married, Arab News reported on Friday.

    The draft law is currently pending approval by the Shura Council, which is the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. If passed, the law will set the age of adulthood at 18 and will prohibit underage girls from getting married. The law comes amidst reports of girls as young as 10 being forced to marry men older than 70, Arab News said.

    Critics of such marriage practices sparked a nationwide debate in Saudi Arabia, calling upon religious and legal authorities to reform the existing legislation. Currently, men can choose to marry girls of any age. As a result of the push to bring changes into the marital law, the Ministry of Justice released a list of conditions that must be met before a girl under the age of 18 is to marry.

    First, the father of a future underage bride will have to send a formal request to the court, asking to make an exception for his daughter to get married. The exception could only be granted if a father provides a medical report stating that marriage would not cause any physical or psychological harm to his daughter.

    Second, the court will need the approval of the girl and her mother, especially if the girl’s parents are divorced. Finally, the court plans to establish a waiting period after the marriage is finalized to give the girl some time to prepare herself for her new life, the Arab News reported.

    This is a truly bold attempt to bring about change in Saudi society. Previous attempts did not end successfully. Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti said there was nothing wrong with girls below 15 getting married. Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al-Shaikh also said he had no further intention to discuss the issue, according to Gulf News.

    Human rights groups have supported the push to set the minimum age in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf News said.

    children, child marriage, child abuse, human rights, Shura Council, Saudi Arabia
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