Young Saudi Girl Suddenly Drops Petition to Divorce 80-Year-Old

A young Saudi girl suddently and unexpectedly dropped her petition for a divorce from her 80-year-old husband, to whom she was married in exchange for a dowry, AFP reported.

The 12-year-old and her mother withdrew the case Monday in Buraidah, Al-Qasim province, even after having gained the support and help of human rights lawyers and child welfare advocates.

In January it was reported that the child bride had pleaded with journalists to "save me" after her marriage had been consummated, AFP reported.

However, no reason was given for her sudden change of heart this week. She told the court on Monday the marriage was performed with her consent. "I agree to the marriage. I have no objection," AFP quoted the bride. "This is in filial respect to my father and obedience to his wish."

The teen's father reportedly arranged her marriage to the octogenarian in exchange for $22,667. He and the girl's mother are separated.

Saleh al-Dabibi, a human rights lawyer working on the case, said the girl and her mother had not informed him of their decision. He and government officials have expressed shock at the unexpected turn of events.

The case originally caused an uproar when the mother, unidentified in local reports, petitioned the court to annul her daughter's marriage, arguing the girl had been raped.

Despite recent pushes by human rights officials to set a minimum age at which girls can be married, Saudi Arabia has no law against child marriage, and the practice is often justified based on Islamic and Saudi tradition, AFP reported.

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