Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Old Sheiks Buy Young Girls.

From: The Times of India

HYDERABAD: In a replay of an oft-recurring tale, an octogenarian Arab groom acquired a 27-year-old Indian bride from Hyderabad by paying a measly Rs 10,000. The groom and his accomplices have been arrested.Mohammed Ahmed Al-Marfai, his two friends Khalid Juma Al-Sabri and Isa Juma Ali Al-Balushi and a Muslim cleric Qazi Mehmood Qureshi, who had performed the marriage were taken into custody by the police in Jawaharpur, Chowni Naad Ali Baig in the Muslim-majority old city after the girl raised an alarm.According to Sandeep Shandilya, Deputy Commissioner of Police, south zone, Al-Marfai had landed in the city two days ago and was staying at a lodge in Talab Katta area. He had allegedly paid Rs.10,000 to Ahmed Bin Salam and Sabira Begum of Nawab Sab Kunta area to marry their daughter.Inquiries revealed that Ahmed Bin Salam is physically handicapped and has 10 children including nine girls. Five of his daughters are unmarried.Al-Marfai's passport shows his age as 59. A case has been registered against him and the three others at the Rein Bazar police station.Citizens of Oman and Saudi Arabia are required to obtain a no-objection certificate from their governments before marrying foreigners, but he had no such permission, police said.

The incident once again reveals how Muslim girls from poor families continue to be married to old Arabs despite the Wakf Board threatening Muslim clerics officiating in such marriages with strict action.Awareness campaigns have also been launched by voluntary organisations.In most of these cases, the girls are married to men who are their grandfather's age.Impoverished parents are lured with money or dreams of their daughter entering prosperous wedlock. They get a rude shock when unscrupulous Arabs abandon them after spending one or a few nights with them. These people invariably ditch the brides and return to their countries.In August last year, two minor girls were married to a middle-aged Arab from the UAE in one sitting by a cleric. However, the girls escaped from his clutches. The Arab, Shaik Al Rahama Ismail Mirza Abdul Jabbar fled the country. Police had then arrested the cleric and the broker and claimed that the marriage racket had international ramifications.
In September 2004, Hyderabad Police had rescued 15-year-old Praveen in Mumbai and arrested two nationals from Oman - Omer Sayeed and Nasser Hameed Mohanned, both aged 60.Praveen, daughter of a fruit vendor was married to the 53-year-old Omani national Mahather Hameed Abdullah al-Ghailani, who promised to take her to Oman. After spending four days in the city, the Omani husband took the girl to Mumbai. However, he deserted her and left for Oman, leaving her in the care of his two friends.Earlier in May, 2004, Jafar Hasan Al-Zagrani, 73 of UAE was arrested after he married 19-year-old Haseena. She had complained to the police that he ditched her after marriage. Investigations revealed that he had married another girl from Hyderabad.In 1991, the case of a girl child's marriage with an elderly Arab had shocked the nation. Amina, 14, was found weeping by an airhostess on a Hyderabad-Delhi flight. Her 60-year-old Arab husband was taking her to Saudi Arabia. When the airhostess alerted the police the Arab was arrested and the girl was rescued.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. You find a lot of them in Egypt too, although, for some reason, you do not hear about it, as if it is acceptable, so long it is with our Arab brothers, or rather old uncles!!
Poverty is a terrible thing, and the money temptation for the parents can be difficult to resist. Neverthless, for a young adolescent girl to marry a man in his 70s or 80s, is a horrible crime and is not very much different from slavery.