Schoolgirls Being Sold To Arab Men As ‘Brides’, Hyderabad Mosques Step In

Campaigners said scores of such marriages are performed every year and in most cases the girls are abused physically and sexually, or pushed into domestic servitude. (Representational image)

Mumbai: Mosques in Hyderabad are joining a growing campaign to stop schoolgirls being sold as brides to elderly Arab men, authorities said on Monday, and an outcry about a new spate of cases.

The government launched an investigation last week into the marriage of a 16-year-old girl with a 65-year-old Oman national in exchange for Rs 500,000 after she contacted her mother from Muscat crying for help.

Hyderabad police said the girl’s father had given fake documents regarding her age – as girls cannot legally marry until age 18 – and has been taken into custody for questioning. The police are looking for the qazi who performed the wedding in a Hyderabad hotel.

Campaigners said scores of such marriages are performed every year and in most cases the girls are abused physically and sexually, or pushed into domestic servitude.

“This is trafficking in the guise of marriage as poor people are targeted, lured and manipulated into giving their daughters away,” Imtyaz Rahim, district child protection officer in Hyderabad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“In the past, we have got licences of qazis cancelled for performing such weddings. We are now asking them mandatorily check the bride’s age proof. We are also asking mosques to include messages against such marriages in their sermons.”

Mr Rahim said the five to 10-minute announcements at mosques will spread awareness against child marriages.

The police have been cracking down on child marriages in Hyderabad and surrounding areas but officials said most of marriages with Arab men are performed secretly and it is easier to gain access to people through sermons at mosques.

Jameela Nishat, founder of Shaheen’s Women’s Resource and Welfare Association, said stricter laws against child marriage in India have been effective.

“But girls are now being taken to Gulf nations on work or 40-day visit visas and trapped in marriage,” she said.

Various government agencies in India are working to bring the 16-year-old girl back from Muscat to India, said Velivela Satyanarayana, a deputy commissioner of police in Hyderabad.

($1 = 64.0600 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of ThomsonReuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

3 COMMENTS

  1. The Report reminds me of the movie: Bazaar. Nothing seems to have changed. When will the people be humane? The only remedy I can think of is educate girls and create jobs. Give everyone quality education, not what is provided in religious schools.

  2. Why blame the mosques?

    Some muslims shamelessly demand dowry like many bad hindus do, instead of giving mehr(groom’s gift to bride). Is the mosque responsible for it?
    Leave alone arabs, rich old indian men might marry poor 18 19 year girls. Thats far more prevalent and amongst indians be hindus or muslims. May be in some cases a 25yr old might want to marry 40-50 yr old.
    Laws and govt can only stop these to an extent, what we need is awareness and sense of responsibility in parents to be spread.

    If mosques or temple or churches are spreading awareness of something good that should be appreciated and encouraged. And I yet to see muslims talk about the “caste-Ashraf” non-sense atleast in my city Hyderabad. My cousin was recently married to a guy in Bangalore inspite of language and culture barriers not because he is “upper caste” because he is well educated and earning and the boys parents are educated, the mother is a doctor.

  3. This is an age old islamic practise, mosques are acting as if they never knew, infact sunni families in hyderabad, lucknow, kolkata, prefer upper caste ashraf arab son in laws for uplifting honor. Dilemma of false pride

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