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'One month marriages' used to promote prostitution in southern India

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A form of prostitution called "one month marriages" has taken hold in south India, in Hyderabad. These "contract marriages" are strictly prohibited in India and forbidden by Islam, but they are still being practiced by foreigners, local agents and "Qazis" who exploit the poverty found in the city's Muslim families.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Inspector Vijay Kumar says that visitors here want to marry because they believe prostitution is forbidden under Islam. The poorer families here then agree to contract marriages because they have many daughters and cannot afford to pay for all of their weddings.

A series of one-month contract "marriages" are often used to fund their own genuine wedding.

Shiraz Amina Khan of Hyderabad's Women and Child Welfare Society, said there were up to 15 "contract marriages" in the city every month and that the number is rising.

"They come to Hyderabad because it has maximum downtrodden families. Thirty to forty per cent of families are going for the option of contract marriages to relieve their poverty. It has to be stopped," she said.

One such victim, Nausheen Tobassum says she escaped from her home last month after her parents pressured her to consummate a forced marriage to a middle aged Sudanese man who had paid for her to be his "wife" for four weeks.

She told police she had been taken by her aunt to a hotel where she and three other teenage girls were introduced to a Sudanese oil company executive. The 44-year-old "groom" Usama Ibrahim Mohammed, married with two children in Khartoum, later arrived at her home where a Qazi performed a wedding ceremony.

According to Inspector Kumar he had paid the girl's aunt, who in turn paid 70,000 Rupees to her parents, 5,000 Rupees to the Qazi, and 5,000 Rupees to an Urdu translator and kept 20,000 Rupees herself.

The wedding certificate came with a "Talaknama" which fixed the terms of the divorce at the end of the groom's holiday.

"The next day he came to the house of the victim girl and asked her to participate in sex but she refused. She is a young girl and the groom is older than her father," Inspector Kumar told journalists.

Tobassum ran out of their tiny one room home in Hyderabad's Moghulpuri neighborhood and was rescued by a police patrol. The police arrested the groom, the victim's aunt and the Qazi, and issued a warrant for her parents arrest. Nausheen is a minor under Indian law and cannot marry until she reaches 18 years of age. Her parents are now in hiding but will be charged with arranging a child marriage, "outraging the modesty" of a woman, and criminal conspiracy.

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