Target: His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Goal: Establish a minimum age for marriage in Saudi Arabia.
There is currently no minimum age for marriage in Saudi Arabia, where women and girls suffer under a male guardianship system. The Saudi Ministry of Justice recently proposed a minimum age of 16 and marriage preconditions for girls under the age of 16. Urge the Saudi government to adopt and implement this proposal and take further steps to meet international standards for women and girls.
The proposed regulations would set the minimum age for marriage to 16 and establish preconditions for marriage, including requiring approval from the girl’s mother, approval of an application to a designated court, and requiring a social worker, psychologist and gynecologist to vouch for the girl’s readiness for marriage.
In 2010, advocacy group Equality Now took on the case of 12-year-old child bride Fatima, whose father had the right under Saudi Arabia’s current male guardianship system to marry her off to a 50-year-old man who had another wife and 10 children. Fatima ran away six months after her marriage and fought for a divorce; she was granted one in 2013. According to Equality Now, however, Fatima is currently fighting psychological damage from her ordeal, including shame from living as a divorced child.
Currently in Saudi Arabia, there are few regulations stopping children from entering forced or early marriages. Under male guardianship, a girl has no right to select her own marriage partner, choose whether to attend school, or make her own major life decisions. Urge Saudi Arabia to adopt the minimum age for marriage, and take the first step toward expanding the rights of women and girls.
Dear King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud,
I urge you to adopt and implement the proposal from the Ministry of Justice to set the minimum age for marriage to 16. The proposed regulations would expand protections for women and girls in your country, and set an example for others to follow around the world.
I support the efforts of Equality Now and other international advocacy groups to expand the rights of women and girls and end child marriage in Saudi Arabia. The 2010 case of Fatima, who was granted a divorce in 2013 and who still faces psychological damage from her ordeal, shows that there is still much to be done to protect the country’s children.
Take the first step to protect the rights of women and girls and implement a minimum age for marriage immediately. The next step would be to set a minimum age of 18 to comply with international standards and end child marriage. The rights of women to select their own marriage partner, choose to pursue their education and make their own life decisions are human rights, and I encourage you to end male guardianship over women.
[Your Name here]