A 70-year-old man in Saudi Arabia said he was ripped off of a $20,000 wedding dowry from a family after marrying their 15-year-old daughter who left him.
CNN exclusively reported the man paid the dowry to the girl’s parents in order to marry her. But after their nuptials, her family had taken her back, leaving him short $20,000 and without a wife. The man, who would not give his name to CNN, said he believed she was 25-years-old, not 15.
"She is not 15 as everybody claims," he told CNN. "She's 25 years old and she's mature enough to make her own decisions... I was fooled by the girl's family."
The story in Saudi Arabia, a country which has no laws to dictate the minimum age for marriage, made headlines after the man complained to local officials about his missing bride.
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Human rights officials in Saudi Arabia said they believe the girl, who is from Al-Hurath village in Jizan province in southwestern Saudi Arabia neighboring Yemen, got into a fight with the man and returned to her family.
According to Dr. Hadi Al-Yami, the head of the Asir branch of the Saudi government-backed Human Rights Commission (HRC), many are outraged the union of a teenage and a 70-year-old man even took place.
Al-Yami said the Human Rights Commission is conducting an investigation in Al-Hurath and plans to provide the girl and her family with legal help to dispute the marriage. While conservatives oppose laws for the age to marry in the country, the HRC has advocated for setting a legal marriage age in the past.
Similarly, other government-backed groups like the Saudi National Association for Human Rights (NSHR) and individuals are outraged at the situation and are calling for action.
"When you consider the very large difference in age, it looks more like this was not a marriage, but like the girl was sold," Dr. Suhaila Zein al-Abedin of NSHR told CNN. "The girl's parents need to be held responsible for this."
"It's only when there's enough public outrage that we can fight #childmarriage. We are not angry enough to help that 15 y/o & others like her,” Egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy tweeted Tuesday.
This is not the first time a controversial wedding took place in the Middle East. Back in August, a 40-year-old man married an 11-year-old girl in rural Afghanistan, CNN reported, as just one of the 51 million child bride cases around the world.