Telangana to introduce law curbing the Arab-Indian child bride nexus
The Telangana government plans to introduce a law to end the exploitation of minor girls by Arab sheikhs. As per the minorities welfare department secretary Syed Omer Jaleel, a file chronicling the cases of minor girls being married to older men from Arab countries has been circulated, along with the steps that could be taken to stop this menace. Know more!
The Arab-Indian child bride nexus: How does it work?
For the last four decades, Arabs from United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Sudan and Somalia have been reportedly coming to Telangana looking for "virgin brides" of 12-14 years. They come on visitors' visa or on medical grounds and marriage brokers arrange the "nikah." Brokers exploit poor Muslim families who have many girls by arranging their marriage to aging men.
What do the statistics indicate?
Over 500 Muslim child bride marriages were recorded by NGOs in the last ten years. There are about 50 brokers in this business, of which 25 are women. These marriage brokers divide the sheikhs into three categories depending on their economic status. Brides are sold at Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5L; the bride's family gets one-fourth, and the remaining is distributed among brokers and Qazis.
After "Talaq," victims have to fend for themselves
After sexually exploiting child brides for some time, Arabs either leave them or sell them further. For example, Waseem was married to a Sheikh at 12 years of age; after she got pregnant, he left her. Now, she learns tailoring to support her daughter. Rehana was married to a 55-year-old Sheikh at age 14 in 2004. Since then, she has been sold 14 times.
How did the police crackdown on the nexus?
Hyderabad DCP V Satyanarayana said that since 2010, only nine cases have been registered by the police. Only after a campaign was organized did the victims come forward. Police conducted a thorough investigation after a minor girl was forcefully married to an Omani sheikh in August. Since then, about 11 sheikhs, four Qazis, four lodge owners and eight brokers have been arrested.
What is the Telangana government planning to do?
The Telangana government plans to pass a law to end this menace. The Arab male citizens entering India will be closely monitored. Jaleel said Arabs "must obtain proper clearance" to marry Indian women. The age difference for marriage has been recommended to be less than 10 years. Moreover, women should be enabled to access Indian consular officers in West Asian countries to ensure their well-being.
Will the law end the practice?
HT reports that most parents wish to marry off their girls at a young age because they think keeping menstruating girls at home is a sin. Further, poverty drives parents to sell their daughters. Though the bride's family earns a meager amount, they feel happy about spending nothing on the marriage. The government should find a permanent solution to this problem.