From an old news article:
Saudi court rejects plea to annul 8-year-old girl's marriage to 58-year-old manOrthoFundie: An arranged marriage of an 8-year-old to a 58-year-old man? Does the girl's mother have no say? Does the girl have no say even when she comes of age? What is it with these strict Wahhabi Muslims?
A Saudi court has rejected a plea to divorce an eight-year-old girl married off by her father to a man who is 58, saying the case should wait until the girl reaches puberty. The divorce plea was filed in August by the girl's divorced mother with a court at Unayzah, 220 kilometres (135 miles) north of Riyadh just after the marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.
"She doesn't know yet that she has been married," the lawyer said then of the girl who was about to begin her fourth year at primary school.
Relatives who did not wish to be named told AFP that the marriage had not yet been consummated, and that the girl continued to live with her mother. They said that the father had set a verbal condition by which the marriage is not consummated for another 10 years, when the girl turns 18.
The father had agreed to marry off his daughter for an advance dowry of 30,000 riyals ($8,000), as he was apparently facing financial problems, they said. The father was in court and he remained adamant in favour of the marriage, they added.
The mother's said he was going to appeal the verdict at the court of cassation, the supreme court in the ultraconservative kingdom which applies Islamic Sharia law in its courts.
Arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents are occasionally reported in the Arabian Peninsula, including in Saudi Arabia where the strict conservative Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and polygamy is common. In Yemen in April, another girl aged eight was granted a divorce after her unemployed father forced her to marry a man of 28.
SkeptoPrax: What's the problem? It seems eminently practical and just!
SkeptoPrax: Well, you went through tractate Kiddushin. Sound pretty close to the practice of yiud.
OrthoFundie: Sure, based on Shmos [Exodus] 21:7-11 where an impoverished father sells his minor daughter as a maid-servant...
SkeptoPrax: ... and the master has the option of marrying her - or having his son marrying her - when she comes of age at 12-1/2.
OrthoFundie: But she has the right of miyun [refusal], and can refuse to be married at that time!
SkeptoPrax: Sorry, you must have dozed off a bit when learning. I know that those late nights at the yeshiva can really take a toll. First, we have a general presumption that the father is acting as his daughter's agent and is only doing what is in her best interest; therefore his da'as [knowledge, thoughts] becomes a substitute for his daughter's. Second, what 12-year-old girl has the wherewithal to defy her father??
OrthoFundie: OK, granted. But that was a different time. This is no longer an acceptable practice and all of the poskim would agree to that.
SkeptoPrax: Don't you recall the notorious "kedusha ketana" incident in Boro Park a number of years back, in which Israel Goldstein did this as a way of punishing his agunah wife?
OrthoFundie: You can't bring a proof from one wacko. Besides, this was widely condemned by Agudath Israel. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach invalidated such unions even though he didn't write up the opinion before he died. R. Moshe Sternbuch concurred with this opinion.
SkeptoPrax: But certainly you agree that the law is still "on the books" as it were? And don't you pray three times a day that there is a restoration of a Jewish theocracy? Are you saying that some Torah laws will not be reinstated?