A 70-year-old man in Saudi Arabia allegedly married a 15-year-old girl after paying, what he claims, was a large dollar amount to the family for the privilege.
The act of donating cash to a family to compensate for the offer of marriage is not uncommon in certain parts of the world, mainly southern Asia. The elderly groom reportedly gave the child bride’s family $20,000 for the exchange.
According to CNN, human rights groups are calling for the dissolution of the marriage, claiming the girl is being exploited and abused.
The groom, who wished to remain anonymous, claims the girl is lying about her age and believed the girl to to be 25-years-old. The marriage gained attention after the elderly groom went to a village official to register a complaint against the teen bride’s family, claiming that they took his $20,000 with the intention to commit fraud. He says the girl ran back to her family’s house shortly after she moved in with him. He believes it was all part of the family’s plan.
A Saudi Human Rights worker, Dr. Suhalia al-Abedin, also put blame on the family, saying, “When you consider the very large difference in age, it looks more like this was not a marriage, but like the girl was sold”. Al-Abedin went on to say, “The girl’s parents need to be held responsible for this”.
While human rights groups are working to set child bride age standards, Saudi Arabia does not currently regulate marital age or child marriage.