Guardian’s attempt to stop woman from marrying genuine suitor a crime …soon.

A news article says that one in every 16 women above 32 in Saudi Arabia is  forced to stay unmarried.

“There are a variety of reasons behind this phenomenon including unemployment, a housing shortage and obsolete social traditions.

Al-Fouzan urged men to find wives closer to their age. “This would help reduce the number of unmarried women,” he said. [Link, “Four Million single women in Saudi Arabia by 2015“]

A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.

Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger who often writes about women’s issues, said…

“… they want to convince the men to marry older women… The men want virgins, not older women or divorcees. The problem is that we have a lot of women in their late 20s or 30s who are not married and which men are not interested in, while the young ladies don’t want to be the second wife as their first marriage.”

Saudi men see polygamy as their right and prefer to marry young girls. Dowry – given by the husband to the bride’s father, makes it easier for richer, often older men to marry young women. Girls are often forced into such marriages.

Some academics are suggesting that suicide, especially among the young, is increasing. “…80 percent of these cases involved girls or young women. Causes included domestic abuse, favoritism expressed by parents toward male siblings, forced marriage and preventing marriage…”

The HRC is also seeking to include forced marriage as a human trafficking crime. A common motive for forced marriage is a father’s attempt to strengthen bonds between families or friends, often in exchange for a dowry that the father steals from his daughter.

In some cases women, especially employed women, are prevented from getting married by their fathers, who deny them permission, out of concern of losing the household income. From the comments that follow this article it seems girls supporting their families is appreciated although Saudi girls are not allowed to drive and they can’t buy a car with their hard earned money, without a male guardian’s permission.
Once married whatever they earn, they might have to hand over to their husband who might otherwise ‘boot’ them out of their home. [link]

“…the rising number of Saudi men marrying non-Saudi women is also contributing to the rise of single Saudi women.” Under current Saudi rules, Saudi women are not allowed to marry foreign men unless under exceptional circumstances. (This too is likely to change).

“…more and more young Saudi women are well educated, financially independent and exposed to different ways of thinking about themselves, relationships and their roles in society… this leads many young Saudi women to refuse the advances of men seeking to take a second, third or fourth wife.

Some women seek out foreign men, in the hopes that they will not end up in a polygamous marriage.


All Saudi women are not unaware of injustice in the situation, they do object, question, and even write about it. Are young men finding ways to rebel too?

Last month, the HRC announced its effort to include the crime of adhl in the Kingdom’s official definition of human trafficking, which would codify a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to SR1 million to any guardian found guilty of preventing a woman’s right to marry a man otherwise deemed acceptable by Shariah.

Along with these changes, would it not be simpler if everybody had control over their own income? And some day, also over their own lives?


13 thoughts on “Guardian’s attempt to stop woman from marrying genuine suitor a crime …soon.

  1. Thats fair enough but wont this bring along a lot of other issues , how do you police all these changes …
    What is a right choice .. how do we know if the lady is making a right choiuce to marry one of her choice or is the person found by guardian the right choice..

    If all this has to happen then why have a guardian.. whats the need of a guardian… So many questions come up..
    I just hope and wish that all these law changes are done after careful consideration …


    • Bikram if the girl can be legally stoned to death, earn and support her family, be held responsible as an adult for all her actions (sometimes even those in which she is a victim) – isn’t she matured enough to marry a partner of her choice?

      When guardians choose, it seems their bigger concerns are the dowry they receive, and the money she brings home and strengthening of family ties, business alliances etc – when she chooses, she will know what she prefers, after all it’s her life. If she is unhappy, she suffers, not her guardians.
      Also if she can’t even make this basic choice, is she really mature enough to be getting married?


  2. A very relevant issue yet again.
    Having control over one’s life is a birthright… it’s our life after all and we have the right to make it or spoil it. But that’s not to say guardians and their responsibilities need to be cut out. As long as the purpose of their regulations is constructive, I believe it’s all good…


    • Absolutely Deboshree. Guiding and supporting is a serious responsibility, it should be seen as a right to control. Also sometimes parents shirk their responsibility, they let a daughter live in an unhappy, abusive marriage or force (or encourage) a son to marry for dowry.


    • I agree with what you have said on your blog, “Didn’t you feel that possession, ownership rights of cow got changed from one hand to another hand.”

      Yes it does feel like that. It is a slavery by another name.

      And ‘protection’ does not mean ‘controlling’ somebody’s life.


  3. IHM a similar situation prevails in India too. It is lesser known because a lot of girls haven’t raised an outcry yet. A lot of parents are reluctant to let an earning girl leave the house and get married – because of their income that supplements the household budget. Then women who are married have to hand over their money to their in laws when they get married.


    • I agree to this .. I have seen same happenning in my neighbourhood . The worst part of it was that the parents managed to convince the girl get divorced after two years of marriage. she now has a son who might never get to see his dad, not untill he is of age to decide that for himself !

      How selfish and cruel indeed of the parents to decide this for their own kids !!


  4. I guess Indian Muslims fare much better than their Arab counterparts. I’ve seen a lot of widow/divorcee remarriages among Indian muslims. When I was young, these marriages never seemed like a huge deal, until I grew up to find that in most societies, widows and divorcees are looked down upon. We have plenty of such marriages in my family and the acceptance from all sides is complete. But then, even such families are a minority even in India 🙂

    Me – A lot of things followed are not religion but ‘local customs and local traditions’ that is why the same religion is followed differently even in the same country. I hope widow/divorcee remarriages continue to be the norm where there is complete acceptance, and I hope others communities see the benefits this has for the society.


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