Saudi 70-year old groom disputes child bride claims

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(Getty Images - for illustrative purposes)

(Getty Images - for illustrative purposes)

A 70-year old Saudi Arabian man has disputed claims his bride is just 15 years old, claiming her family duped him into paying an expensive dowry, CNN reported.

The man, who declined to be named, said he gave the girl’s family a US$20,000 dowry, but claimed his new bride is actually 25 and old enough to make her own decisions.

“She is not 15 as everybody claims,” he told CNN. “She’s 25 years old and she’s mature enough to make her own decisions... I was fooled by the girl's family,” he added.

The union came to public attention when the man complained to officials that he had been ripped off after his new bride fled to her parents’ home, said to be in Jizan province, south-western Saudi Arabia.

Her husband said he suspected the bride and her parents had deliberately set him up to get his money.

The Human Rights Commission, a government-affiliated group, told CNN they had sent an investigator to the courthouse to offer the girl and her family legal advice, Dr Hadi Al Yami, head of the Asir branch of the group.

Reports of the marriage have sparked international condemnation from human rights groups about Saudi Arabia’s marriage law, which does not stipulate a minimum age for marriage and grants fathers guardianship over daughters, giving them control over who they can marry and when.

Reports in local newspapers last year said Saudi Arabia is edging closer to setting a minimum age for marriages but there have been no indications of any changes since.

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