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“]
“… 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.
This abuse is called adhl (prevention in Arabic) and is referred to in Chapter 2, Verse 232 of the Holy Qur’an. A father who prevents his daughter from marrying a suitor who is otherwise considered an acceptable husband as defined in Shariah commits this crime.
“…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.
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?