A 12-year-old Saudi girl has unexpectedly dropped her application to divorce her 80-year-old second cousin, despite intervention from human rights groups.
According to reports, the girl had been married to the elderly relative under the wishes of her father, who received a dowry worth $22,665. The mother, who was separated from the father, did not approve the marriage, and accused the second cousin of raping her daughter.
A reporter for the Al-Riyadh newspaper, to whom the girl admitted the marriage had been consummated and asked for help, first discovered the girl's plight. Human Rights Commission had since stepped into help the girl, hiring a lawyer and bringing attention to the case.
However on Monday in a court in Buraidah, in Al-Qasim province, the girl dropped the case. "I agree to the marriage. I have no objection. This is in filial respect to my father and obedience to his wish," she said according to Saudi media reports.
Both her lawyer and HRC expressed shock at the sudden change of heart.
Due to the supremacy of Saudi Arabia's austere form of Sunni Islamic law, child marriage remains legal in the country. However, there has been a movement to ban the practice. In January, Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a member of the Council of Senior Ulema (scholars), told Saudi media that the Prophet Mohammed's marriage to a nine-year-old girl 14 centuries ago cannot be used to justify child marriage.
King Abdullah's daughter, Princess Adela bint Abdullah, also stepped in, telling Al-Riyadh newspaper, "I, personally, and many specialists in social and education fields, share the opinion" that it is in violation of children's rights.