Saudi Arabia bans child marriage

December 25, 2019

The ministry of justice in Saudi Arabia has prohibited marriage of persons under 18 years — while setting 18 years as the minimum age for marriage. According to Saudi Gazette, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, minister of justice and chairman of the supreme judicial council (SJC), on Tuesday, issued a directive to all courts and marriage officials instructing them that no marriage should be carried out involving those under the age of 18. Contained in the circular issued by the minister is that marriage requests should henceforth be directed to specialised courts where the necessary arrangements would be done. “All such requests are to be referred to the specialised court to complete the formalities in line with the Child Protection Law and while implementing the established regulations,” the newspaper quoted Al-Samaani’s directive as saying. The directive is to ensure conformity with paragraph (16/3) of the executive regulations of the Child Protection Law, which stipulates that “before conducting marriage contracts one has to make sure that marrying a person under the age of 18 will not harm him or her and achieve their best interests, male or female.” The circular also stated that matchmakers found violating the rules will also be held accountable and would be referred to the ministry for necessary legal action. This marks an historic end to child marriages which are prevalent in Saudi Arabia, until the recent directive seeking to change the status quo. The minister’s directive is also watershed in the country’s push to end under-marriage, after several efforts  in the past have either witnessed partial compliance or failed.

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