Mosques in Hyderabad are joining a campaign to stop schoolgirls being sold as brides to elderly Arab men. The move comes after a case of marriage of a 16-year-old girl with a 65-year-old Oman national in exchange for Rs 500,000 came to light.
The girl’s father had given fake documents regarding her age. According to a report of The Express Tribune, 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,” said Imtyaz Rahim, district child protection officer in Hyderabad, according to a Reuters report.
Rahim revealed that in the past, they’ve got licenses of qazis cancelled for performing such weddings. They are now asking mosques to include messages against such marriages in their sermons. Five to 10-minute announcements at mosques will spread awareness against child marriages.
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The police says that most of marriages with Arab men are performed secretly, so it is easier to gain access to people through sermons at mosques.
Marriages with rich, often elderly Arab men, have been prevalent for decades in Hyderabad, a hub for global information technology companies, with the girls’ parents arranging the marriages in most cases in exchange for a cash payment.
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.