No plan to set minimum age for marriage of girls: Grand Mufti
In a telephone interview with Al-Riyadh newspaper, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh reiterated that marriage of girls below 15 years is “permissible”.
The Ministry of Justice submitted a proposal to the Board of Senior Scholars to restrict under-age marriages in the country two years ago, but the board has yet to take a decision on the issue.
A high-ranking source in the ministry said the ministry had referred to the Presidency for Religious Research and Ruling a comprehensive proposal to set the marriage age of women at 15 after taking into account the psychological, social and health implications of under-age marriages.
The proposal was made by a committee, comprising representatives of various government agencies, formed by the ministry to come up with a solution based on Islamic principles to the issue of under-age marriages. The committee studied the subject from Shariah, social and health aspects.
In the proposal referred to the Board of Senior Scholars, the ministry suggested that the power to marry under-aged girls be transferred from the marriage official (ma’zoun) to the Shariah court judge.
The girl’s guardian should be advised against the decision, but the judge can go ahead with signing of the marriage contract if the guardian insists.
The source said the ministry was in the process of finalizing an electronic marriage contract, which will include the ages of both the bride and the groom.
The move is aimed at ascertaining the age of couples entering a marriage relationship and to compile data on under-age marriages in the country.
The source said the marriage of under-age girls in the Kingdom is very limited with only 10 cases reaching the courts so far.
The ministry is working hard to restrict under-age marriages in view of their harms to girls, the source said, adding that it has made recommendations for a suitable mechanism to make the courts the only authority to approve such marriages.
Under these recommendations, marriage officials will be prevented from officiating such marriages unless they have a written approval from the concerned court.
The conditions to be met for approving an under-age marriage include consent from the girl as well as the girl’s mother.
The guardians should also ensure that the marriage is not consummated until the girl has been given sufficient time to be prepared mentally and is trained to take up the responsibilities of family life.
According to the proposal, the guardian is required to submit a request to the court to exempt his daughter from the minimum marriage age.
The request should be accompanied by a medical report from a specialist committee, which includes a female gynecologist and obstetrician, a female psychiatrist and a female sociologist, proving that the girl is physically and mentally fit for marriage.