8-year-old girl's marriage ruled legal

April 12, 2009 at 7:40 AM
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ONAIZA, Saudi Arabia, April 12 (UPI) -- A Saudi Arabian judge has refused to overturn a ruling that declared the arranged marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man legal, a relative says.

The judge, Sheikh Habib Habib, ruled for the second time Saturday in Onaiza that the girl's marriage to a friend of her father's was legal and binding. He said the child wife could file for divorce once she reached puberty, CNN reported.

An unnamed relative of the girl told the broadcaster that Habib, who first refused to annul the marriage last year, reconsidered the case upon the girl's mother's appeal. The mother's attorney, Abdullah Jutaili, said the girl's father arranged the marriage with his "close friend" to pay off a monetary debt.

The relative said the girl's mother, who is divorced from the father, will continue to seek to overturn the marriage. An appeals court in Riyadh will reportedly consider the case again in a hearing set for next month.

Zuhair Harithi of the Saudi Human Rights Commission told CNN child marriages in the country must be fought, saying they "violate international agreements that have been signed by Saudi Arabia and should not be allowed."

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