It's a case that has the potential redefine an entire nations views and finally provoke Saudi Arabia into enforcing a minimum age limit for marriage.
In 2009 an eleven year old girl was forcibly married to her fathers eighty year old cousin for a dowry of approximately twelve thousand pounds. After the girl protested her marriage pressure from foreign news coverage caused the Human Rights Commission (see boxout) to step in and represent the girl in court. However, the girl's family eventually came to an "understanding" and a divorce was agreed upon privately. The Human Rights Commission has stated that it will use the publicity gained by this case to attempt to establish a minimum age limit of sixteen for marriage. Three committees, comprising social workers, child psychologists, and scholars in Islamic law, have been set up to debate the matter and this particular case is central to the debate.
The main aim is not to allow cases like this to happen again. Of course, there will be some opposition, but we feel that public opinion has changed on the matter. We want to gather all the public support we can for a minimum age for marriage.
There has previously been difficulty in establishing a minimum age limit for marriage in Saudi Arabia. The country has a male dominant society in which women cannot drive (but bizarrely can fly planes), vote, show off their bodies or even leave the house without a male escort. Combined with the fact that the entire population of the country is Islamic by law and that the Islam prophet Muhammed married a nine year old girl (my own research into this matter uncovered that the girl was seven years old when he married he but he waited to consummate it until she was nine years old), this has bred a certain disregard for such a limitation into the society. However in January, Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie (a highly respected Saudi cleric) spoke out against child marriages, saying that Muhammed's wedding in the seventh century could not be used to justify current child marriages, and forced many to take another look at what they'd never once questioned.