A 90-year-old Saudi Arabian man whose 15-year-old child bride locked herself in her bedroom on their wedding night has claimed he was the victim of a set-up.
The terrified teen locked the door from the inside so that her new husband could not enter on their first night as a married couple, and two days later she fled back to her parents’ home.
Her elderly husband claims he paid the parents £10,767 ($17,500) for the teenager so they could wed.
‘I feel that there is a conspiracy by her mother against me,' he said.
He said that he planned to go to court and 'demand that her parents give me back my money.'
The 90-year-old said he paid the dowry to the young girl’s Saudi mother and Yemeni father, making the marriage ‘legal and correct’, Al Arabiya reported.
Campaigners in Saudi Arabia have called on the authorities to intervene to ensure the girl in Jizan, a southern town near the border with Yemen, is not returned to the man.
The 15-year-old’s arranged marriage sparked outrage and widespread condemnation in Saudi Arabia where activists took to Twitter calling it child trafficking and prostitution.
A Mouhammad Khaled Alnuzha posted on his account: ‘Is this a case of human trafficking crimes punishable by law?’
A member of the Saudi National Association for Human Rights (NSHR), Suhaila Zein el-Abedin urged authorities to ‘save this child from tragedy,’ adding that marriage in Islam must be based on mutual consent.
She also blamed the girls parents for accepting the dowry and marrying off their daughter to a man 75 years older than her, underlining the importance of establishing a minimum age of 18 for marriage in Saudi Arabia.
A CONTROVERSIAL TRADITION AFFECTING THOUSANDS
Child marriage have both male and female victims, however the number of female victims is disproportionate to male as it is tradition in countries which practice child marriage that young girls are married off to older men.
Marriage of young girls is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In Niger, 77 per cent of 20- to 24-year-old women were married before the age of 18. In Bangladesh, this rate was 65 per cent.
UNICEF global figures from 2009 show that 36 per cent of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before they reached 18 and the latest numbers estimates 51 million of girls under 18 are married world-wide.