Time: April 16, 2018
Five Shoura Council members have proposed an increase in the minimum marriage age limit for girls from 15 to 18 years.
The proposal was mooted by Moudi Al-Khalaf, Latifa Al-Shaalan, Noura Al-Musaid, Essa Al-Ghaith and Fowziyah Abalkhail. The proposal recommended changing marriage laws to make it illegal for girls under 15 years to get married. Girls under 18 years may get married if certain conditions were met, namely: the consent of the mother of the bride and the consent of the bride herself, a medical report stating that she is physically and psychologically fit for marriage, the groom must not be older than twice the bride’s age and the marriage must be done through a marriage official specialized in marriages of said age group.
The Shoura Council members defended their proposal by stating that there are physical, psychological and social harms to girls’ marriage. Islam prioritizes safety and protection and allowing girls under 15 to get married is harmful for them. There are scientific studies proving that giving birth at a young age leads to a higher number of miscarriages and early pregnancy can deteriorate a woman’s health.
Early pregnancies proved to cause anxiety, OCD and high stress levels for women. Moreover, girls that young are not mentally or socially mature to become mothers. Girls who marry young and become pregnant early are more likely to drop out of school.
The Kingdom has signed many agreements such as the Children’s Rights agreement in 1988 and the CEDAW agreement in 1979 which condemns having no legal consequences of child marriages. Not having a law in place to eliminate and regulate child marriages is a breach of these agreements.
The Shoura Council’s Islamic Affairs Committee rejected the proposal claiming that the issue is already being dealt with by the Council of Senior Scholars.