The rackets of Child Brides in Hyderabad: A chain going on since the decades

Bhubaneswar: The issue of child brides in Hyderabad is a very heavily running and extremely serious crime which has plagued the city as well as the country for decades. The major factors behind this notorious atrocity are still in practice very common such as financial and social inequalities, gender-related mindsets, misogyny and poverty. Despite the stringent laws and awareness the practice of child marriages continues in the old city. Most of these young and minor girls are married to much older men living in gulf counties. Men who are around 20- 40 years older than the girls are marrying them in exchange for money.

The entire process of child marriage is illegal in every aspect. The child brides are silenced and have no voice of their own. They are subjugated and subjected to cruelties, having no right regarding their marriage and expressing their choice either before or after the marriage. Often their passports are taken away and they are coerced into prostitution and repeated marriages. These crimes occur mostly by family members like fathers, brothers, and husbands selling young women in the disguise of fake marriages. Counties like Kuwait, Dubai, Uman, Sudan,  or any other Gulf country are highly predominant places of residents for these kinds of rackets.

Families who have a dearth of money to marry off their daughters and have more than one daughter are lured to such rackets in the fascination of getting money to fulfil the dowry demands for the younger daughters’ marriage in a family. A chain or full-fledged network operates to execute these crimes in a very organic manner. In every lane or locality, there is a muscle man or a pimp who keeps an eye on every house in the surrounding which is extremely poor and vulnerable. The pumps gradually become friends with the family and slowly offer to help them with this fake marriage proposal.

In earlier times during 2005- 7, it was the scenario where many young girls in the age group of 13-17 would be dressed like brides and walk in a row from one corner of the room to the other in front of the man. Whichever girl he likes will be given Rs 500, then the process of negotiating with the family starts, and then the marriage is performed. These marriages are not performed in the usual manner because they are fake marriages. These marriages mostly happen in Muslim communities because Hyderabad is a Muslim-dominant area, especially the old Hyderabad, so the Khazis involved in such marriages are also fake, and one of them. The nikahnama is usually written in Arabic so that no one can find out the reality, whereas the regular nikahnams are written in the Urdu language. In such cases, both the nikahnam and the talaqnama are signed at the same time. So it is nothing but fraudulent to cover a fake marriage.

At present times, because of the immigration procedure, they are unable to take the girl out of the country if she is under 18. So they have changed their process of capturing the young brides by marrying the girls here and keeping them in a hotel for 15- 30 days then signing the talaqnama and sending the girl home. It is full-fledged legalised prostitution. Now social media makes the process even easier for them in that they perform the marriages in WhatsApp itself through conference calls. Thereafter the girl is sent after she is 18 years old to the Gulf countries as a maidservant and coerced into a prostitute there.

During the 70s and 80s, these malpractices were going on very smoothly. In the 90s there were records that girls were getting married in this fake manner to make blue films. This girl’s trafficking occurs in places where there is poverty and the girls are vulnerable. In the old city of Hyderabad, particularly in the chaus families, the only profession they adopt to earn money is to sell their daughters. During the time of Nizams, the Chaus were called from the Gulf countries to guard the wealth and properties of the Nizams. The Chaus community were settled in Hyderabad then and the nizams were paying them 200-300 rupees scholarship/ wage per child. After the evolution of feudalism and the era of nizams, they had no source of earning so they started to sell their children, especially the girls. It gradually turned out to be a business for them.

These issues are majorly unreported because of the lack of awareness of the women and the mindset overboard that it is against the Islam religion to raise their voices and questions. Issues like polygamy, domestic violence, and voicelessness are highly predominant in the community in old Hyderabad. The situation is such that women themselves are against any changes because they think it is an easy way to get married. Despite the awareness and torture that they go through for life. Equality based on gender is not acceptable in this world. There is no concept of morality, ethics or legality in this scenario.