'We have no real home and my 12 siblings have no toys': Runaway Saudi bride, 15, describes the desperate poverty which led to her marrying 90-year-old
- Shareefa Ali Shuwai said she agreed to marry 90-year-old Haider Bin Ali Masrahi because her poverty-stricken family needed the dowry money
- She lives with her mother, father and 12 siblings in a straw hut in a village in Saudi Arabia's south-west, near the border with troubled Yemen
- The marriage was annulled after the young bride locked herself in the marital chamber on her wedding night and refused to let the groom in
By DAMIEN GAYLE
Divorce: The 15-year-old Saudi girl (not pictured) has now been divorced form the 90-year-old man after she refused to consummate their union
A Saudi teenage bride who was wed to a man six times her age has said she agreed to the arranged marriage to help her family out of their dire poverty.
But Shareefa Ali Shuwai, 15, locked 90-year-old Haider Bin Ali Masrahi out of the marital chamber on their wedding night and refused to consummate the union.
Now she has spoken out to explain that she only agreed to be married to the old man because of the grief she felt over her family's 'painful living conditions'.
'We lacked the essential elements to live in dignity,' she said. 'We had no real or secure home and we were deprived of school.'
'We ate beef only on rare occasions or when charitable people offered it to us. My brothers and sisters had no toys or anything.'
Arabic daily Al Sharq reported how the girl lives with her mother, father and 12 brothers and sisters in a straw hut in a village in the south-west of Saudi Arabia, near the border with troubled Yemen.
'Whenever there was rain, we really suffered and our father took us to our neighbour’s house so that we were protected from the downpour,' she was reported as saying by Gulf News a few days after the divorce was finalised.
'Our father never got his identity papers because he did not complete the administrative procedures and we do not know what awaits us.'
The family came under intense scrutiny this month when Shareefa's nonagenarian groom complained to authorities that he had been swindled after his young bride refused to go to bed with him.
After the old man kicked up a stink about the £7,500 dowry paid to the girl's parents, the Saudi Human Rights Commission intervened to formally end the controversial match.
Mr Masrahi had threatened to take the poverty-stricken family to court, but the commission said a meeting had since taken place between the man, the girl and her parents and that the dispute had been 'resolved amicably'.
A CONTROVERSIAL TRADITION WHICH AFFECTS MILLIONS OF GIRLS
It all began when he proposed to the youngster from the village of Al-Hurath in Jizan province, offered her Saudi father and Yemeni mother a 45,000 riyal (£17,500) dowry and said he would pay for the wedding celebrations.
Shareefa's father Ali said his family's 'extremely dire living conditions' pushed him to accept the indecent proposal.
But after the formal ceremonies were completed the terrified young bride locked the door to their bedroom and refused to let her elderly new husband in.
She spent the night in tears and only unlocked the door the next morning when two uncles arrived to take her back to her family. In her distress she had ripped the dress in which she was married.
After her return to the family home, Shareefa's parents then refused to let Mr Masrahi take his new wife home and told him they could not afford to pay him back the dowry he had provided.
The groom has since disputed reports that his erstwhile bride is a teenager, and said her family readily accepted his proposal of marriage.
He claims he is the victim of a set up.
'She is not 15 as everybody claims. She's 25 years old and she's mature enough to make her own decisions... I was fooled by the girl's family,' he said in a recent interview with CNN.
Escape: The girl, thought to be 15, was taken back her home in the village of Al-Hurath in Saudi Arabia's Jizan province after she locked her nonagenarian groom out of the marital chamber on their wedding night
Mr Masrahi has claimed that Mr Ali and he agreed on the marriage details, including the 45,000 riyal dowry and expenses for the wedding which amounted to a further 35,000 riyals (£5,800).
THE OUTCRY AFTER NEWS OF THE CONTROVERSIAL MARRIAGE BROKE
But at the last minute the girl apparently had second thoughts.
'When we got home on the wedding night, she rushed to a room and locked herself inside and refused to open the door until early morning when two of her uncles came to take her to her family’s home,' Mr Masrahi said.
The groom also attempted to downgrade estimates of his own age. Initially reports indicated that he is 90 years old, but he subsequently claimed to be 70.
Members of the Saudi Human Rights Commission have said they believe Mr Masrahi is in fact 86, an estimate which he now agrees with.
In any case, according to reports, it seems Mr Masrahi saw nothing wrong with his decision to marry and his choice of bride.
'There is nothing wrong with me taking up a wife. I am still physically active and I am in great shape,' he said, adding that his decision to get married was spurred by the age of his first wife.
'She is past her 80s now and it has been a long time since we lived as husband and wife. I have decided to take up a new wife.'
According to reports, sources close to the case have said that Mr Masrahi's marriage to Shareefa was not his first to an adolescent girl.
Local daily Al Youm quoted one individual who said the old man had 18 months ago wed a 15-year-old Yemeni girl, who stayed with him for about a month before she too fled, seeking help from local dignitaries.
Responding to the paper's allegations, Mr Masrahi claimed that the Yemeni girl did not run away from him, but that he had in fact divorced her.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262194/We-needed-money-buy-toys-brothers-sisters-Why-Saudi-bride-15-agreed-wed-man-SIX-TIMES-age.html#ixzz2I2uVIOPE
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