“He felt that women are resorting to ‘secret marriages’ to escape from flogging or torture by their family members, or expulsion from their family homes.”
“Parental opposition spawns secret marriages,” by Mariam Al Hakeem in Gulfnews, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
Riyadh: Many young Saudi women are finding themselves in a knot after secretly marrying.
“Secret marriages” as they are known are held without the knowledge of the families of both the man and woman and the couple would be issued with a fake marriage contract – usually by corrupt officials after taking bribes.
Such marriages are illegal according to Sharia principles. Experts say such marriages are becoming popular because of repeated refusals by the fathers or other family members.
Secret marriage contracts in Saudi Arabia is estimated to account for 9 per cent of all marriages, Dr Hassan Bin Mohammad Safar, Professor of Judicial Systems and Procedures before the Sharia Courts at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, told Gulf News.
“The phenomenon is found to be popular among students and business community,” Dr Safar said. He cited several cases where university students had secretly married and where young men had secretly married businesswoman to benefit from their wealth.
He added that 3 per cent of women who married secretly want to sue their husbands at courts after they refused to admit the marriage as legal. “But some women are hesitant to take this step due to fear of their family and scandal,” he added.
Dr Safar said many officials who are authorised by the Ministry of Justice to finalise marriage contracts are violating their professional code of conduct.
He said many officials exploit the licence given to them by concluding marriage contracts that are not based on Islamic principles. He said the officials are merely looking for money regardless of whether the practise is legal or not. According to Islamic Sharia, a marriage contract is valid only if it is made in the presence of a guardian and witnesses. The wedding must also be made public.
Many women in Jeddah disclosed that they obtained marriage contracts without the knowledge of their families after paying 2,000 to 4,000 riyals.
“The marriages of two women were announced after they could no longer hide their pregnancies. In many other cases women have resorted to abortions to avoid their secrets being revealed,” Dr Safar said.
He felt that women are resorting to “secret marriages” to escape from flogging or torture by their family members, or expulsion from their family homes. Fathers repeatedly refusing proposals to their daughters is cited as one of the key reasons. “Love and desire of the girls to marry the men they want after their father refused to do so is a main reason,” he added.