Bahrain: Opposition to minimum marriage age of 15

Arab News
Lawmakers from the largest opposition bloc in the Bahraini Parliament are opposing setting the minimum marriage age for girls at 15, saying this is against Islamic principles.
MPs from Al-Wefaq bloc are criticizing a ministerial order setting the marriage age for girls at 15 and men at 18. “This decision is unconstitutional and clearly interferes with the judiciary. It is against Islamic principles,” said MP Haider Al-Sitri. Top scholars are also backing lawmakers.
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa made the ministerial order recently.

He defended the decision and assured lawmakers that the decision did not interfere with judicial authority. He said parents who were planning to marry their children at younger ages could seek consent from courts.

The Bahrain Women Union said setting the age of marriage for girls at 15 was not right. “The age of marriage for both men and women should be fixed at 18. This can only be done if the details are included in the family law, which has been waiting for years to be passed,” said Mariam Rowaie, head of the group. She added the order was a violation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and other agreements that Bahrain is a signatory of. “This is like promoting child marriage. They are supposed to be in school rather than getting married. Early marriage of a girl confines her to household activities and deprives her of an education,” said a human rights advocate.

“Raising the marriage age is essential as women’s wombs are not complete and ready for pregnancy before the age of 20,” said Dr. Sumaya Al-Jowder.

Bahrain, like several other Arab countries, does not have a single codified family law because of fears that amendment to the legislation would violate Shariah.

05 May 2009

Source: Arab News