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Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Sunday, 24 August 2008 10:20 UK

Saudi child 'files for divorce'

A couple look at a wedding dress in Riyadh, file image
Young girls are sometimes given away in return for large dowries

A court in Saudi Arabia is reported to be preparing to hear a plea for divorce from an eight-year-old girl who has been married off to a man in his 50s.

The Saudi newspaper al-Watan said the girl had been married off to the man by her father without her knowledge.

The child's mother is thought to be pushing for the marriage to be annulled - though the father opposes the move.

In April, a court in neighbouring Yemen annulled the arranged marriage of another eight-year-old girl.

She had been married to a 28-year-old man.

Child-protection groups say children are often given away in return for hefty dowries, or as a result of old customs in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships.

Activists have called for an end to the practice.


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