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New law to set marital age of consent at 18

Last updated: Monday, December 16, 2013 12:08 AM

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — A long-awaited personal affairs law that regulates family relationships and decides the rights of women and children will include an article setting the minimum age of marital consent at 18, Al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday.

Legal sources said under the new law, a girl under this age will not be allowed to marry without a court decision even if her male guardian has given his consent.

They said the Shoura Council would soon discuss the law before it is sent to the Council of Ministers for final approval.

The law will be based on the 282-item Muscat Document on personal affairs adopted by the GCC ministers of justice in 1998.

The sources said the law, which will be issued in the coming few weeks, includes chapters on marriage, separation between husbands and wives, maturity of men and women and inheritance.

The new law aims to achieve parity between men and women in all aspects of life.

The sources said the law would cancel the right of guardianship for men over women except in marriages, where Islamic Shariah gives them this right.

They said the wife could ask to include a stipulation in the marriage contract indicating her right to divorce if the husband marries another woman and she has the right to stay in the marital home if a divorce between them has not been made final.

According to the sources, the new law has described the relationship between married couples to be a partnership, not qiwamah (supremacy of men over women) as it used to be.

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