Saturday, August 19, 2006

Poverty drives 20-year-old Indian to wed octogenarian Saudi

Bangalore - In an oft seen story of the compulsions of poverty and a society that looks past gender exploitation, an 80-year-old Arab sheikh has married the 20-year-old daughter of a cycle mechanic here. And the police can do nothing.
Bangalore bride Asma Begum married Mujib Al-Sunafiam Al-Dosari from Saudi Arabia, who is 60 years older than her and could well be her grandfather, on Tuesday.
‘Yes, we have learnt about the nikaah between the couple, solemnised by a local priest under the Shariat law on Tuesday, a day after the octogenarian arrived in the city from Riyadh with one of his sons — Abdullah Al-Dosari, a police constable, and his family,’ said a senior police official.
‘Since the bride made a confessional statement that she had consented to the marriage with the blessings of her poverty-stricken parents — Mohammed Arif, a cycle mechanic, and Shaihda Begum — we had no case to book,’ he admitted.
Police learnt about the marriage through a tip-off that some Saudi men and burqa-clad women were staying in a city lodge and their unusual movements were causing suspicion.
As part of Independence Day security measures and preventive checks, police raided the lodge only to discover Mujib spending the first night with his bride in the room, while his son Abdullah was relaxing in an adjacent room with his wife and children.
On interrogation, Asma’s parents told the police that the wedding was arranged by Mujib’s sister-in-law Fathima Yousuf because his first wife had passed away last year and there was no one to look after him in old age.
According to police, Mujib is an affluent businessman from Riyadh, who deals in buying and selling goats, sheep and camels. He also runs a tyre retreading shop. He asked Fathima to find a suitable bride to marry and take care of him as he was living alone.
In an endless circle of exploitation, Fathima, who also belongs to Bangalore, married Mujib’s 60-year-old brother some years ago to bail out her parents from poverty.
And when she made the offer to Asma’s parents a week ago, they succumbed to promises that their daughter would send funds from Saudi Arabia every month and ease the burden of looking after a large family.
Asma and Fathima are just tips of the iceberg.
Said a senior official investigating the case: ‘Though we could not register a case against Mujib or Asma’s parents as the marriage was found to be tenable and legal under Muslim law, we are collecting information to find out whether young girls like Asma are taken to Saudi in the guise of a bride or wife but made to do menial jobs as maids.’
Some years ago in the early 1990s, a young Hyderabad girl Amina who was just 14 at the time was spotted crying by an alert air hostess on the Hyderabad-Delhi flight. Amina had been married off to an Arab in his 60s and was on her way to Saudi Arabia. She was saved because she was a minor.
Asma is not underage. But that hasn’t made her less of a victim of the Lolita syndrome.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home