No plan to close 'child bride' loophole – Bahrain minister

Justice chief says no consensus to toughen up law to stop girls under 15 getting wed.
No plan to close 'child bride' loophole – Bahrain minister
MARRIAGE LAW: Bahrain has no plans to close a loophole that prevents girls under 15 years old from getting married.
By Andrew White
Tue 26 Jan 2010 06:44 PM

Lawmakers in Bahrain have no plans to close a loophole that allows girls below the age of 15 to be married in the Gulf island state, despite legislation intended to ban the practice.

The government prompted a storm of controversy last year when it pushed through a law which set the minimum marriage age for girls at 15. Lawmakers from the largest opposition bloc in the Bahraini Parliament had opposed the legislation, saying it went against Islamic principles.

However, a clause in the legislation means that parents are still able to marry their daughters younger, with the consent of the courts.

“I think we have taken a very big step to remove [the decision] from the hands of the parents, and to have it so it must be approved by the judge,” HE Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, Minister of Justice & Islamic Affairs, told Arabian Business in an interview.

“However there are no plans to push further at this stage,” he continued. “Pushing more I don’t think you will have anybody agree with you. It will be difficult to find a consensus among the community to say ‘yes, this is what we want’.”

Al Khalifa went on to say that “only in very rare circumstances” could marriage under the age of 15 “match with the 21st century”.

“How can a man and a woman have proper consent and agree to enter a relationship that will last forever and [bring with it] children and obligations, if they have not even finished their education?” he said.

“It is something abhorrent, and nobody that talked against [the law] would really like to see their daughters or sons getting married under 15.”

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