CAIRO – An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about $13,000, her lawyer said Thursday.
Saudi Arabia has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for permitting child marriages. The United States, a close ally of the conservative Muslim kingdom, has called child marriage a "clear and unacceptable" violation of human rights.
The girl was allowed to divorce the 50-year-old man who she married in August after an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the case, said her lawyer, Abdulla al-Jeteli. The exact date of the divorce was not immediately known.
A court in the central Oneiza region previously rejected a request by the girl's mother for a divorce and ruled that the girl would have to wait until she reached puberty to file a petition then.
There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman's consent is legally required, some marriage officials don't seek it.
But there has been a push by Saudi human rights groups to define the age of marriage and put an end to the phenomenon.
One Saudi human rights activist Sohaila Zain al-Abdeen was optimistic that the girl's divorce would help efforts to get a law passed enforcing a minimum marriage age of 18.