» 02/26/2009, 00.00
A "fatwa" against Yemeni law setting minimum age for marriage
The norm sets the limit at the age of 17, but according to Islamic figures, this goes against Sharia, and therefore Parliament cannot legislate on the matter. Meanwhile, lawmakers have decided to delay by two years the political elections scheduled for April.
Sana’a (AsiaNews) - Some Yemeni religious figures have launched a "fatwa" against the law recently approved by Parliament that sets the minimum age for marriage at 17. The statement, signed by the rector of Al-Eman University, Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, and by representatives of the party Islamic Islah, is aimed at eliminating the minimum age limit.
The question of the minimum age for marriage in Yemen was brought to the attention of world public opinion last April, following the case of Nojud Mohammed Ali, an 8-year-old girl who requested and obtained a divorce after being forced to marry a 30-year-old man.
News Yemen reports that the 17 signers of the "fatwa" claim that the law has no Islamic foundation and violates Sharia, the Islamic law, which the Constitution of the country affirms as the basis of all of its laws. "The marriage age," says the assistant secretary general of the Islah party, Mohammad Assadi, "is an Islamic rule, and political parties cannot intervene in such affairs."
But there are also some who are asking that the minimum age be raised to 18. One researcher on Islamic questions, AbdulAziz alAsali, also a member of Islah, maintains that girls need to be given time to complete high school, and that "at 18 years they are mentally and physically ready for marriage."
For its part, the National Women's Committee has asked Parliament not to respond to the lawmakers who are asking for the marriage age limit to be lowered to 12.
In any case, it is unlikely that the issue will be examined immediately. Yesterday, the Yemeni Parliament decided in practice to delay by two years the political elections scheduled for next April. Members of Parliament, in fact, approved a document initiating the procedures necessary to modify the articles of the Constitution establishing the duration of the parliamentary mandate. The decision was made to allow the introduction of the amendments necessary "for political and electoral development," including the proportional system.
The decision was made following threats by the opposition to boycott the vote if the electoral law were not modified.
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But the law that permits adults to marry minors will not be changed. A study has highlighted how marriage with young girls is an extremely widespread practice. The little Nojud now wants to return to school; she was in second grade.
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