Saudi Arabia records higher number of women forced to marry relatives

Courts in the kingdom confirmed that there were nine cases of tahjeer during the last two years. (File Photo: Reuters)

Saudi Courts reported an increase in “tahjeer” cases where the male relative of a woman strikes an agreement with her guardian to marry her without consultation and she is then banned from marrying anyone else, Al-Hayat daily reported.

Courts in the kingdom confirmed that there were nine cases of tahjeer during the last two years, three of them in the last 40 days.

Khalid al-Fakhry, the general-secretary of the National Society for Human Rights, said tahjeer was a crime against Islamic, international and national law.

“In fact, it is a form of human trafficking where the victim’s freedom, identity and rights are robbed from her,” said Fakhry.

“A woman who raises a tahjeer case in court is one rejecting a non-Islamic tradition in which she is victimized due to the ignorance of society,” he said.

“These cases are usually raised before a marriage contract is about to be signed.

“The woman would go to the court and report that she is a victim of tahjeer and her opinion and consent to the marriage were never obtained.”

He said if the women’s allegations were proven to be true, the judge would try to advise the guardian to refrain from his act.

If he is adamant that the marriage should go ahead then he is stripped of his guardianship rights, which are then assigned to someone else.

The Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa in 2005 saying tahjeer and forced marriages were not allowed in Islam because they violate the religion’s conditions governing marriage.

Senior scholars considered those who commit tahjeer as disobeyers of Allah who still follow a pre-Islamic and ignorant tradition.

In their view, those who commit tahjeer must be imprisoned and never released until they repent their crime.

The Forum on Domestic Violence in Dammam presented a number of workshops and seminars helping women identify domestic abuse and how to report it.

The forum included a number of activities and campaigns held by the Social Affairs Ministry for the prevention of domestic violence that showcased what the ministry is doing to protect women, children and victims.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45