India: Old Arabs still come to Hyderabad to 'buy' teenage girls for marriage

Saturday September 3 2005 13:23 IST 

HYDERABAD: "Arab Shiekh marries poor Indian girl",
"Arab marries, and then ditches teenage Hyderabadi
girl", "Arab Sheikhs marry young Indian girls and
flee", "Parents marry off daughter to Arab for money"
- The headlines aren't from decades old newspapers.
But, before you start putting stress on your grey
cells to find out in which era such inhuman acts
happened, let's make clear that this is a 'harsh
present day reality'.

Yes, in today's era also Arab Shiekhs marry poor
Indian girls paying a paltry sum, live with them for a
short while, and then, go back to their countries,
abandoning the girls. And, in Hyderabad, also known as
the City of Nawabs, the practice has become very
common, with marriage becoming a trade and woman a

The auspicious ceremony now has a customer, a broker
and a seller. The Arab Sheikhs come to India and fix
up with a broker, who in turn finds a girl, fixes her
price with her father, and finally after tying the
knot lives with her for a few days and goes back to
his country. The tragedy is that few parents have
learnt the lesson.

In a recent case that came to light, an impoverished
Muslim family married off their daughter to an Arab
Sheikh for a meagre amount of Rs. 5000, offered
through a broker.

"He gave Rs. 5000, but it was all taken by the broker.
My mother didn't get anything. I married him wilfully,
even though he was 50 years old," said a girl. Her
dreams are all shattered as she has been abandoned by

Earlier, Arabs used to take their brides back with
them, but that stopped when the Gulf nations
restricted their citizens from bringing home a foreign
bride unless they took prior permission from the
authorities. As a result, instances of Arabs flocking
to Hyderabad for a young bride continue.

Social activists, however, say that the socio-economic
conditions of the Muslim community of Hyderabad, are
forcing poor parents to marry off their daughters to
unknown Sheikhs.

While bachelors of the city demand dowry from the
girl's parents, adding to their plight, Arabs offer
them money in return. This leaves parents with little

"In our country young men don't marry poor girls, as
their parents can't offer them dowry. So a girl's
father finds it really difficult to find a suitable
match for his daughter - a match who won't demand
dowry," said Nadir Almasdoosi, a social activist.

The Qazis, who perform the marriages, said that they
are not responsible for such marriages, because both
parties give their consent on the 'Nikahnama' before
the 'Nikah'.

"When both the parties are ready, they inform the
Qazi, and the Qazi is not responsible for anything
after the Nikah." said Chief Qazi, Shariyath Panah.

In that case the Qazi could say, "Jab Miyan biwi razi,
to kya karega Qazi".

But the main problem arises, when the Arabs, some of
whom already have one or more wives, flee and the
girls are left helpless, and their parents burdened

But despite all this, poor families continue to get
their daughters married to rich Arabs.


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