India’s Bride slave trade entry of sheikhs to be stopped

Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive in India on tourist visas.

Siddhartha Rai | Posted by Ashna Kumar
New Delhi, September 23, 2017 | UPDATED 07:33 IST
Omani and Qatari nationals with Indian Muslim priestsOmani and Qatari nationals with Indian Muslim priests after their arrest in Hyderabad on Wednesday for trafficking and child marriage.

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has urged the Narendra Modi government to strictly monitor entry of sheikhs in the country after Hyderabad police this week busted a racket that sold off minor girls to men from Arab nations on the pretext of marriage. Observers say it has been an open secret for long that a nexus of brokers and qazis has been running such a ring where girls are trafficked from perhaps all parts of the country. Now, the NCM has requested the ministry of external affairs to scrutinise the entry of sheikhs, especially those over 50 years of age.

Thousands of India’s slave brides are often destined for a lifetime of abuse and hardship in the Gulf nations. Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive in India on tourist visas. In a letter to minister Sushma Swaraj, NCM chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi has asked that “the ministry for external affairs may instruct all the Indian missions in the middle-eastern countries to strictly verify and scrutinise the background of these sheikhs, especially aged 50 or above, before issuing visa to them.” The letter added that the issue needs to be dealt with strictly as it is bringing “disrepute to the country”.

In another letter to the union home ministry, Rizvi urged the Centre to prepare a comprehensive list of such incidents and crimes so that a realistic assessment of the problem is available, claiming it is widespread.

“The National Commission of Minorities is of the view that ministry of home affairs must issue instructions to all the concerned agencies of the states and the union territories to sternly deal with the nexus of brokers, qazis, hotel owners and sheikhs and arrest them for outraging the modesty of innocent Muslim girls on the pretext of ‘nikah’,” it said.

HOW POOR MUSLIM WOMEN ARE LURED

The letters by Rizvi made observations about the dismal plight of these trafficked girls who are often pushed into prostitution as they are deserted by the sheikhs after reaching abroad. “It is a fact that Muslim women from poor families are lured by agents for contract marriage with sheikhs coming from Oman, Qatar and other middle- eastern countries Upon reaching there, these girls are deserted by sheikhs and are tortured, sold and forced into prostitution by them. Many of these girls are forced to work as servants by these sheikhs as they are already married ,” Rizvi wrote.

The NCM moved the two ministries as it received a complaint from advocate Mehmood Pracha of Nizamuddin West in Delhi. This Wednesday, Hyderabad Police busted a major racket of contract marriages of young Muslim girls by sheikhs and arrested 20 people including five Omani nationals, three from Qatar and three qazis. Apart from them, their local contacts were also arrested, including five brokers and four lodge owners.

The police said that the information was leaked when they got a tip-off from a minor girl who had earlier been interviewed by one of the sheikhs for the purpose of marriage. Cops blew the lid off the well-oiled machinery of the ring as the local brokers would indulge the sheikhs right from the time they landed at the airport, providing them accommodation and information about potential girls from economically poor background. The brokers would then convince the families to marry their girls to the rich sheikhs, luring them with promises of a bright and happy future for the girls. The girls were also interviewed.

Categories: India

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