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Wed 24 Dec 2008 09:46 AM

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Saudi child brides case adjourned again

Verdict delayed by court as girls, 11 and 16, seek divorce from men in their seventies.

A court in Saudi Arabia has adjourned a case of two girls aged 16 and 11 who want to divorce their husbands, who are both in their 70s.

The court in Taif extended the girls' stay at the social care house for a sixth month as the case was rescheduled for Jan. 3.

It was not announced why the court adjourned the hearing but the Human Rights Commission in the kingdom earlier urged the court to hand down its verdict in the case, the Saudi Gazette reported on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, the mothers of the two girls filed a lawsuit for divorce of their daughters on the grounds that the minors were forced into illegal wedlock and were victims of domestic violence.

The mothers also appealed to the state to intervene in the case and have their teen daughters divorced.

Renowned Saudi scholar Sheikh Abudlmohsin Al-Obaikan has said that the girls should be granted divorce and the two men severely punished.

But the marriage contractor has refuted the charge that the girls were illegally married off, saying their marriage contracts were “perfectly legitimate.”

In Islam, a marriage is valid only if both the bride herself and her guardian fully accept it.

This type of marriage is known as “Shighar” marriage, a practice dating back to pre-Islamic times of marrying off a sister or daughter in return for the hand in marriage of the sister or daughter of the other party.

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