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Saudi judge refuses to annul marriage of girl, 8

  • Story Highlights
  • Girl's father arranged her marriage to a 47-year-old to settle debts, lawyer says
  • Lawyer: Girl's mother sought annulment, but judge ruled she isn't legal guardian
  • Judge ruled girl may request divorce when she reaches puberty, lawyer says
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From Mohammed Jamjoom and Saad Abedine
CNN
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(CNN) -- A Saudi judge recently refused to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man -- a union apparently arranged by the girl's father to settle his debts -- a lawyer in the case told CNN.

On Saturday, the judge, Sheikh Habib Abdallah al-Habib, dismissed a petition brought by the girl's mother because she "is not the legal guardian of the girl," the woman's lawyer Abdullah al-Jutaili said.

"Therefore, she cannot represent her daughter in these proceedings," al-Jutaili said.

Her parents are separated, he said.

According to the lawyer, the girl's father arranged the marriage in order to settle his debts with the man, who is "a close friend" of his.

The judge did ask for a pledge from the husband, who was in court, not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty, according to al-Jutaili.

The judge ruled that when the girl reaches puberty, she will have the right to request a divorce by filing a petition with the court, the lawyer said.

Christoph Wilcke, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said his organization has heard many other cases of child marriages.

"We've been hearing about these types of cases once every four or five months because the Saudi public is now able to express this kind of anger, especially so when girls are traded off to older men," Wilcke said.

Zuhair al-Harithi, a spokesman for the Human Rights Commission, a Saudi government-run human rights group, said his organization is fighting against child marriages.

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"The Human Rights Commission opposes child marriages in Saudi Arabia," al-Harithi said. "Child marriages violate international agreements that have been signed by Saudi Arabia and should not be allowed."

The spokesman said he did not have specific details about this case but his organization has been able to stop at least one other child marriage.

All About Saudi ArabiaHuman Rights Watch

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