Aisha Forced Into Marriage at 13 Files for Divorce: Husband Requests Return of N300,000 Mahr (Kuli)

Aug. 28, 2013

Hamza Suleiman

NewsRescue– She was 13, he was 20. Aisha Haruna, now 20, says her parents forced her into the marriage she did not consent to. Now 20, pregnant and mother of one, she seeks divorce from Hussaini Haruna, 27, of Gurku Village, Nasarawa.

She says she does not enjoy being married to him and seeks divorce on the grounds of having not given her consent.

Hussaini Haruna has requested the case be transferred to Islamic courts and that she return the Mahr, or Kuli a special form of ‘dowry’ deposit that is given by a man to a woman at marriage and serves as a prenuptial insurance for her upkeep and in the event of his divorcing her.

The Mahr/Kuli is not a dowry. It is a sum of money or materials, jewelry, furniture, landed property etc that is demanded by the bride and given to her for her exclusive use. Under no condition during the marriage can the husband ever obtain this from her, except she decides to loan or give it to him. The Mahr/Kuli serves as an insurance for the wife to be for her upkeep and in the event of the man divorcing her, she takes it away for her support.

If the Mahr requested by the bride is more than the husband can afford, she can agree for him to pay her in installments.

The Mahr is given so that even if a wife has nothing of her own, and owns nothing, she may commence her marriage with an amount of money or property that is hers, and hers alone. She may, of course, choose to use it to help her husband, or his business, or the household if she wishes – but this is not what it was intended for and no pressure should come on her.

The amount of Mahr is chosen by bride receiving a lot of advice from sensible people. Ultimately it is her choice. If the Groom fails to pay up, the engagement can be annulled.

If the wife does have genuine grounds for divorce – such as cruelty, mental cruelty, breaking of the marriage contract, adultery, desertion, incurable insanity, long-term imprisonment, abandonment of Islam – then the divorce is not khul but a normal talaq, in which the wife has as much right to instigate proceedings as the husband. In these cases, she most certainly does not have to hand over any of the mahr. See more

In this particular case, it will be advisable the case is resolved in Islamic courts, because the wife stating that she did not give consent and was forced can make her eligible to keep her Mahr/Kuli. In Islam a bride MUST give her consent to marriage. Forced marriage is disallowed in Islam, as can be further read here: Muslims Against Terror: In Islam forced marriages is terrorism

According to NAN, the husband said in court:

“Though I don’t have the document here, but the total expenses is around N300,000,” Mua’zu said.

He told the court that Aisha was eight months pregnant for Haruna.

Mua’zu applied for adjournment to enable him bring the document containing the list of expenses.

The presiding judge, Mr Musa Danjuma, granted the counsel’s application and adjourned the case to Sept. 2 for continuation of hearing.

The wife had earlier told the court that her parents gave her out in marriage at the age of 13 without her consent.

The mother of one said that she stayed in the marriage for seven years, adding that she had lost interest in the marriage.

She said her loss of interest was on the ground that she was a child at that time the marriage was contracted.

Listen to Senator Yerima discuss early marriage on BBC: