After years of discussions, Saudi Arabia finally announced this week that it has banned child marriages, making 18 the minimum age for weddings.
Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council Sheikh Dr. Walid Al-Samaani addressed all courts with an official statement in which he stressed the new law.
The Saudi Ministry of Justice on Tuesday announced the prohibition of the marriage of persons under 18 years.
It has also set 18 years as the minimum age for marriage, the Saudi Gazette is reporting.
The Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, Sheikh Walid Al-Samaani, issued the new directive in a circular sent to all the courts in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Before now, child marriages are commonplace in Saudi Arabia with one in seven girls marrying before the age of 18. But, Saudi Arabia’s justice minister is changing things up.
In the circular released on Tuesday, the minister directed that marriage 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.
Mr Al-Samaani’s directives are based on paragraph (16/3) of the executive regulations of the Child Protection Law, which says “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.”
This is not the first time the Saudi authorities would move to curtail and regulate underage marriages in the country.
In January, the country approved regulations that prohibit marriage for children under 15 years of age. The ban followed a ruling by the kingdom’s Shura Council, which saw two-thirds of the advisory body vote in favour, according to Arab News.
There’s one loophole, though.
Any teenager below the age of 18 will from now on be referred to specialized courts that will assess whether they can get married or not. These courts’ job is to study each child marriage case to confirm that the future spouse who’s under 18 years old, boy or girl, will not be harmed as a result of this wedding and that this union will be of the best interest to the youngster