- North Africa
- Nigeria - Saudi Arabia
- Religion - Women - Unusual
Nigeria: Senator marries 13-year old, rights activists appalled
A Nigerian senator, who introduced and implemented Sharia Law in a Northern Nigeria state, has married a 13 year old girl from Egypt, and women rights group have sprung in protest against the allegedly disingenuous senator. An investigation into his marriage to a minor has been demanded by the Nigerian senate.
Reports claim that Ahmad Sani Yerima, 49, married a 13 year old Egyptian girl at the national mosque in Abuja. Nigeria’s human rights commission has already begun an investigation, following reports of the marriage in newspapers.
"What we are concerned with is that our minors, the girl child, should be allowed to mature, before going into marriage. This very evil act should not be seen to be perpetrated by one of our distinguished legislators ... that is what we are saying," President of the Women’s Medical Association, Mma Wokocha was quoted by reporters.
Ms. Wokocha who is behind the petition demanding that the Senator be taken to court, to face a fine and a jail sentence.
According to reports, the whereabouts of the teenager are unknown - and it is not clear whether she has any parent or guardian with her.
Senator sani Yerima has also been accused of having previously married a 15-year-old girl in 2006. He is reported to have paid a dowry of $100,000 to the parents of his latest teenage bride - and to have the minor flown into Nigeria from Egypt.
However, an investigation into these claims is to be carried out by a Senate committee. In 1999, Senator Sani Yerima oversaw the introduction of Sharia law - for the first time in northern Nigeria, while he was the governor of Zamfara state.
In 2008, the Egyptian ministry of justice invoked a law which says the age gap between spouses should not exceed 25 years. According to BBC analyst Frances Harrison, the justice ministry allows foreign men to marry Egyptian women more than 25 years their junior if they deposit a very large sum of money in the name of their wife at the Egyptian National Bank.
Last year, the Saudi government pledged to regulate the marriage of young girls, in the middle of controversy over a marriage between a 60-year-old man and an 8-year old girl.
Saudi Arabia implements an austere form of Sunni Islam that bans free association between the sexes and gives fathers the right to wed their children to whomever they deem fit. According to the country’s highest religious authority, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Shaikh, it is not against Islamic law to marry off girls who are 15 and younger.