Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: End Child Marriages and Male Guardianship over Women

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 Nov 29
Update Date: 
2012 Nov 6
Update: 

UPDATE 20 MARCH 2013: The judge heard Fatima’s case earlier than expected and in November 2012, issued divorce papers without requiring repayment of the dower. After a required 90-day waiting period, Fatima’s divorce was finalized on 10 February. We will continue to work with Saudi activists to get a ban on child marriage in Saudi Arabia.


UPDATE 6 NOVEMBER 2012: Our Saudi Arabian partners have recently informed us that as of May 2011, 12-year-old child bride Fatima is back at home with her family and has refused to go back to her husband; she is attempting to get a divorce with the support of her uncle. Her husband wants her to move back to his house when she is older, and says that he will not grant her a divorce unless he is paid a large amount of money.  A judge has scheduled the first hearing in her divorce case for 12 December 2012.

We are strategizing with our partners on legal support services for Fatima so that she can continue pursuing the divorce case. However we are concerned that the judge will rule against her unless she can find a way to pay back the dower her father has already spent. Please continue to take action and keep pressure on the King of Saudi Arabia to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as a minimum age of marriage, and providing punishments for adults who enter into or facilitate such unions. Call upon him to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given the means to annul their marriages.


Equality Now has been informed of several cases of Saudi girls being married off at the behest of their male guardians. The most recent case concerns 12-year-old Fatima from Najran who was married on 5 October 2010 to a 50 year old man who already has a wife and ten children, most much older than Fatima. Her father Ali, who is unemployed and addicted to drugs, sold her in marriage for a sum of 40,000 Saudi Riyals (approximately US$ 10,665), which he used to buy himself a car. Reportedly, Fatima’s husband bought her a PlayStation as a wedding gift.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia asking him to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as a minimum age of marriage and providing punishments for those who enter into or facilitate such unions. Call upon him to take urgent action to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages. Please urge him to ensure that the system of male guardianship over women is abolished so that Saudi women secure the right, among other things, to enter into marriages of their choice. In this respect, urge him to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such a law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. Please send a similar letter to the Minister of Justice and a copy to the Human Rights Commission. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim
Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:

The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

[His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726]

[His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741]

 [Date]

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the issue of child marriage in Saudi Arabia and the extremely negative impact of such marriage on girls.  A recent case is that of 12-year-old Fatima from Najran who was married by her father to a 50-year-old man with a wife and ten children in exchange for 40,000 Saudi Riyals which her father used to buy a car.  Fatima’s paternal grandfather and uncle were opposed to the marriage but could not prevent it because, as her male guardian, her father Ali had the right under Saudi law to marry her off at whatever age to whomever he pleased.  They fear that Fatima’s two younger sisters will be subjected to a similar fate.

Child marriages violate the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage and choice of spouse.  International organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls.  Fatima’s marriage will, among other things, deprive her of an education and severely jeopardize her right to mental, emotional and physical well-being.

I urge you to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as the minimum age of marriage, and providing punishments for those who enter into or facilitate such unions.  I also urge you to take urgent action to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages.  Please ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect your government’s stated claim before international bodies that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to enter into marriages of their choice.  In this respect, I urge you to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such a law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. 

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission (email: hrc@haq-ksa.org)
 

News Alert: Equality Now Condemns Saudi Arabian Court Ruling Sentencing Rape Victim To 200 Lashes And 6 Months’ Imprisonment

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2007 Nov 19

A 19-year-old woman from Qatif, Saudi Arabia, was brutally attacked and gang raped by 7 men approximately 18 months ago, according to media reports. While seeking justice in her case, the woman was herself sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes for being in the company of an unrelated man at the time of the attack.

What You Can Do: 

Please contact the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C, or in your country if not the US, as well as the State Department in the US or your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Call on these officials to convey your concern over this injustice and to take whatever action is in their power to protect this Saudi rape victim from lashing and imprisonment. In the US, please contact:

Saudi Arabian Ambassador, Adel Al-Jubeir, in Washington D.C. at (202) 342-3800
Or
Consulates General in: New York at (212) 752-2740, Los Angeles at (310) 479-6000, Houston (713) 785-5577
 

News Alert: Saudi Arabia: Equality Now issues urgent call for the immediate reunification of the family of Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz and Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani as the family’s health deteriorates

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Jul 27

Equality Now recently called on the Saudi government to take urgent action to reunite Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz and Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani, a happily married couple who were forced to divorce against their will and have been living apart under duress for over three years. For more background on the case, please see Women's Action 31.1.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Saudi Ambassador in your country, urging the immediate reunification of Fatima, Mansour and their children so that they can attempt to rebuild their lives in peace and security without fear of persecution or abuse. Ask that the government put a stop to all forced divorces, so that couples who wish can reunite.

Contact information for Saudi embassies around the world can be found on the following websites:

http://www.the-saudi.net/saudi-arabia-directory/Saudi_Embassies/
http://www.saudinf.com/main/p1.htm

Please send copies of your letters to:

Dr. Bandar bin Abdullah El Aiban
President
The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street
Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 14 612 061
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

 

Letters: 

Dear Ambassador:

It is with deep concern that I have learned of the severe trauma of 5-year-old Nuha, daughter of Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz and Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani, who were divorced by the Saudi authorities against their will and in breach of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The forced separation of Nuha and her younger brother Suleiman’s parents and their intolerable treatment by the Saudi authorities is not, by the government’s own admission, legally prescribed. I ask you to do all that you can to end this family’s suffering. Please ask the King to grant the immediate reunification of Fatima, Mansour and their children and allow them to rebuild their shattered lives without fear of persecution or abuse. I ask that you do the same for all other couples forcibly divorced in Saudi Arabia who wish to be reunited.

Sincerely yours,
 

Urgent Alert: Saudi Arabia: Urgent Call for Annulment of Marriage of 10-Year-Old Girl

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Jun 1

Amneh Mohamed Sharahili, a 10-year-old Saudi schoolgirl, has been married off by her father to a 25-year-old Saudi man. Although Amneh’s marriage contract was executed in mid-February 2009, she has not yet been handed over to her husband and continues to live with her parents. Her father intends to hand her over in July 2009. Amneh, who is eager to continue school and eventually become a teacher, does not quite comprehend what it means to be married.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia asking him to issue an edict establishing a minimum age of marriage and banning all child marriages. Call upon him to take urgent action to annul the marriage of Amneh and all other child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed, but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands. Also ask him to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages and, if they opt for annulment, to ensure that this happens swiftly without negative repercussions on the girls. Please also urge the King to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. Please send a similar letter to the Minister of Justice. Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul
Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul
El Karim AbdulAzziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:

The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street
Building 373
Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Sample letter
 

Saudi Arabia: Women under Perpetual Guardianship of Male Relatives

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 May 17

On 17 February 2010, after four years of separation, Fatima Bent Suleiman, Mansour El Timani and their children were finally reunited following a decision by the Supreme Judiciary Council to overturn their forced divorce. Fatima’s marriage had been approved by Fatima’s father in 2003, but after his death her half-brothers petitioned for her divorce on the grounds of her tribal incompatibility with her husband. Fatima believes one reason for this was to enable her half-brothers through legal guardianship to retain control over her inheritance.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia and the Minister of Justice asking them to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other aspects, to enter into and stay in marriages of their choice without third party interference and make relevant decisions about their education, healthcare, travel and employment and other aspects of life. Urge them to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage, divorce and all other aspects of life and to revoke the male guardianship system that hinders women’s participation in both private and public life. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:
The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889, Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Sample letter

Saudi Arabia: Forced Divorce—Women under Perpetual Guardianship of Male Relatives

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Feb 1

Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz married Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani in 2003 with the consent of her father (her guardian) as required in Saudi Arabia. The couple was happily married and had two children, a girl Nuha, born in May 2004, and a boy Suleiman, born in November 2005.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia and the Minister of Justice asking them to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to enter into and stay in marriages of their choice without third party interference. In this respect, urge them to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. Call upon them to take urgent action to reunite Fatima, Mansour and their children as a family whose rights are recognized and protected under the Saudi Constitution, as well as other couples who have been divorced without their consent (to the extent such couples want to be reunited) and to ensure that no couple is divorced without the consent of at least one of them. Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tel: +966 1 488 2222
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:

Dr. Bandar bin Abdullah El Aiban
President
The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street
Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 14 612 061
Email: shakwa@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

[His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726]

[His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741]
[Date]

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to you in regard to the case of Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz who was forcibly divorced from her husband Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani in a decision upheld by the Cassation Court. The court held that any relative of a woman could petition a court to invalidate her marriage on the basis of her “tribal incompatibility” with her husband and upheld the principle of perpetual male guardianship of women by their male relatives. Several other cases of forced divorce have followed.

I urge you to take immediate action to reunite Fatima, Mansour and their two children as a family whose rights are recognized and protected under the Saudi Constitution, as well as other couples who have been divorced without their consent (to the extent that such couples want to be reunited) and to ensure that no couple is divorced without the consent of at least one of them. In this regard, I ask you to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim of the Saudi government that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to enter into and stay in marriages of their choice without third party interference. I urge you to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely
 

Syndicate content