Monday, August 25, 2008

Child Marriages

The Marriage Contract by William Hogarth

Child marriage has been prevalent in many cultures throughout human history.

In 16th Century England, 13 year-old Elisabeth Ramsbotham complained that her 11 year-old husband, John Bridge, had not yet deflowered her. ( Thomas Mann's Death in Venice)

Saudi Arabia is in the news because of child marriages.

In Saudi Arabia, "An 11-year-old boy gave out invitations to his classmates for a big event his family was planning this summer - and it wasn't his birthday party.

"It was his wedding to a 10-year-old cousin...

Clerics and others ... say such unions are harmful to the children and trivialise the institution of marriage." - Gulfnews: Saudi activists and clerics demand end to child marriage

A Saudi Arabian court is to rule next month on the divorce of an eight-year-old girl from a man in his fifties.

"The girl, who still does not know she is married, lives with her parents in the town of Unayzah, 135 miles north of the capital Riyadh. The marriage had been arranged in secret by her father.

"She is preparing to start the new year at primary school in the town, which is located in the conservative Najd region of the country - the spiritual homeland of the Islamist Wahhabi movement that has long dominated the kingdom.

"According to the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Watan, which reported the case, the divorce suit has been filed by the girl's mother." - Saudi Arabian girl, 8, seeks divorce


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Mystery of the Saudi 'threat'

In The Guardian, 1 August 2008, David Howarth, the UK Liberal Democrats' shadow solicitor general, wrote about the Mystery of the Saudi 'threat' .

Howarth reminds us that the BAE investigation was halted because of a Saudi 'threat'.

"But was the threat genuine?" asks Howarth.

According to Howarth:

"The nagging thought is that the Saudi threat was a put up job.

"Either it did not happen at all in the way suggested by the government, or it did happen but only after prompting.

"The reason the government was not outraged by the threat is simply that there was never a real threat to be outraged...

"It is noticeable that BAE's own initial objections to the investigation, in late 2005, make no reference to national security issues or to terrorism, and when the attorney general carried out the first 'Shawcross' exercise (asking other ministers for their views of the public interest) in December 2005, even though he had already been in contact with the Ministry of Defence, he made no reference to those issues either...

Even in September 2006, more than a month after Prince Bandar supposedly made his threats, the attorney general did not think the risks serious enough to warrant abandoning the investigation..."