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Saudi Human Rights Commission Tackles Child Marriages | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The government-affiliated Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia released a statement Sunday describing the phenomenon of marrying off minor girls as an “inhumane violation.”

Dr. Zuheir al Harthi, spokesman for the human rights body told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Commission will persist in demanding that marriage officials adhere to a binding minimum age limit when carrying out marriage ceremonies.

The Commission stated that this phenomenon “goes against the rights of children,” and that the Commission would “spare no effort in confronting and curtailing this phenomenon.”

In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Zuheir al Harthi warned against the dangerous consequences of such marriages. “The role of the Human Rights Commission is to sound the alarm on these kinds of marriages,” said al Harthi. He further highlighted the need for concerted efforts in order to eliminate this phenomenon, which violates all international accords concerning children.

Over the recent period, the Commission addressed the Saudi Ministry of Health and requested that it present medical reports on the issue of marrying off minors.

The Commission statement issued earlier this week read, “The relevant committees at the Ministry of Health highlight that there are serious health impacts that have negative effects on the mother of the minor and on her children.”

Dr Zuheir Harthi indicated that [this phenomenon] is detrimental to society. He also stated that “the Human Rights Commission wanted to block all angles connected to this issue whether health, social, cultural or even religious.”

The Commission clearly expressed its rejection of marrying off minors. The spokesman said that the Commission “would work with all official parties in the state to curtail this phenomenon.”

The Saudi Human Rights Commission has raised this issue after it appeared that this phenomenon was on the rise, particularly in some cities. This drove the Commission to address the Ministry of Justice and governors of regions where these kinds of marriages have been taking place.

What strengthens the position of the Human Rights Commission, which is linked to the cabinet, is the unlikely success of such marriages according to Harthi. “The issue is related to some social considerations on the one hand and material considerations on the other hand.”

According to the spokesman, the Commission is requesting that an age limit is set for marriage officials, who carry out the ceremony, to which they must abide.

The Saudi Human Rights Commission condemned the reaction of a marriage official in the Onaiza region of the Qassim province dismissed that there was anything wrong with marrying off minors despite that acceptance or refusal are the prerequisites of any marriage contract.

The Commission highlighted its endeavor to cooperate with a number of parties to curb the spread of this phenomenon and violation of children’s rights. It is considered “a clear violation against children and their psychological, moral and physical rights”. The Commission hopes to speed up imposing health and legal regulations that are in line with the Islamic religion in order to contribute to family cohesion.