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New garb to exploitation of child brides

New garb to exploitation of child brides

Author: J.S. Ifthekhar
Publication: The Hindu
Date: January 18, 2004
URL: http://www.hindu.com/2004/01/18/stories/2004011804390600.htm

Oil rich Arabs wedding Hyderabadi women and discarding them after fun-filled honeymoon is passé. The latest trend appears to be to go in for short duration marriages. The name of the game is "contract marriage."

The ageing grooms marry right royally and give `talaq' after a fortnight or a month. In fact, the divorce papers are signed by the hubby-to-be at the time of the "nikah" itself. On the face of it the whole thing looks proper and straight. All this is possible with some "khaziz" becoming willing tools in the hands of the unscrupulous grooms.

A shocking case of a young girl of Sultan Shahi in the Old City being married off thrice in a span of one and half month has come to light recently. The girl (identity withheld) has since been married to a local boy and is unwilling to speak about the sordid chapter in her life. This is stated to be only the tip of the iceberg. Such short-term marriages are rampant in the Old City with poverty-stricken families falling an easy prey.

When contacted, Khazi Anjum Arifi, secretary, Anjumane Qazat, A.P, admitted that occurrence of contract marriages had come to his notice. He termed such nikhas "anti-Islamic" and in total violation of Shariat rules. The Wakf Board Chairman, Mohd. Saleem, said severe action would be taken against the erring khazis if a written complaint is made. A decade ago marriage of minor girls to Arab grand-dads rocked the nation. Ameena, the child bride who was married off to a 60-plus Saudi national, typifies the reprehensible practice of poor parents marrying off their daughters in return for monetary benefits. Following a public outcry, police cracked down on forced marriages of young girls with foreign nationals.

The racket has now surfaced in a different form with some pliable khazis bending the Shariat rules and conducting ``contract marriages''. Following the Ameena episode the Wakf Board had instructed khazis to immediately alert it whenever they were called upon to perform a nikah involving a foreign national. According to informed sources, the khazis who perform such marriages have their own agents who scout for the foreign bridegroom. At the time of nikah, the khazi reportedly takes the signature of the unsuspecting bride on the divorce papers. But the date of divorce is not mentioned. When his time for leaving the country comes, the foreign nationals quietly send their wives to the parents' home and inform the khazi. The next day the latter delivers the `talaqnama' to the girl after filling in the date.

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