By Sara Anabtawi
Top religious authority voices support for underage marriage in light of gov't talks on issue
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has reportedly voiced his support for the marriage of under-age females in the kingdom, while condemning those who seek to raise the legal marriage age.
A girl is ready to marry at 10 or 12 years of age according to Islam, London-based Al Hayat reported Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh as saying, adding that Islamic law is not repressive to women.
"Those who call for raising the age of marriage to 25 are absolutely mistaken,"Al Sheikh said in a lecture at the faculty of Imam Mohamed bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.
He added: "Our mothers and grandmothers got married when they were barely 12. Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age."
The Grand Mufti’s statement came following discussions by the Justice Ministry to set a minimum age for marriage.
The conservative Kingdom is facing strong pressure to raise the minimum age for marriage, following international criticism of cases involving children forced into wedlock with older men.
In 2010, for instance, the Saudi Human Rights Commission, a government affiliated group, hired a lawyer to help a 12-year old girl divorce her 80-year old husband.