Minister of justice and chairman of the supreme judicial council, Sheikh Dr Walid Al-Samaani, gave the order in a circular issued to all courts.
All such requests are to be referred to the specialized court to complete the formalities in line with the child protection law and while implementing the established regulations.
Al-Samaani’s directives are based on paragraph (16/3) of the executive regulations of the child protection law.
It says: “before conducting marriage contracts one has to make sure that marrying a person under the age of 18 will not harm him or her and achieve their best interests, male or female.
Saudi Arabia is a conservative country, with deep historical, religious and cultural roots. Early marriage is enshrined in religious scriptures, as many claims that it follows the strict interpretation of Shariah that allows girls to marry as soon as they reach puberty.
Despite last month’s decision by the government, the issue is still being debated on, bringing the issue of child marriage to the forefront in both the religious and cultural spheres.
Child marriage remains a global concern, it cuts across geographical borders, religions, cultures and class systems. It is a means for many to get out of poverty, to chastise their children, or to cover up for rape or an illegal pregnancy.