Monday, June 29, 2009

Father exchanges eight-year-old for a second bride

KARACHI: Police have detained a middle aged man alleged to have married his under age daughter in ‘Watta Satta’, along with the Qazi (cleric) who performed the nikah ceremony and the ‘husband’.

Zahida, 8, a minor belonging to a low-income Siraiki family that hails from Liaquat Pur, Punjab and is presently living in Azam Basti within the limits of Mehmoodabad police station (Jamshed Town). Her father, Abdul Rasool, 50, is a mason by profession and wanted to marry Haseena, 19. Haseena is a married woman, the mother of two children and happens to be related to him. Zahida is the eldest among Rasool’s three daughters. Rasool married his daughter to Haseena’s younger brother Dilshad, 17. Her nikah was performed on June 25 by Qari Naqeeb Ali Shah and her rukhsati was supposed to take place on July 1.

The police took action after her mother informed Union Council (UC) 3 Naib Nazim Aurangzaib about the incident. At first, the police detained Zahida’s father and then conducted a raid on a mosque from where they were able to detain Shah. The police also took Dilshad into the custody and is looking for the arrests of witnesses who were present at the nikah till the time this report was filed.

According to Zahida’s mother Perveen, her husband married Zahida in exchange for his marriage to Dilshad’s sister Haseena. The girl’s mother further said that her husband also played a role in breaking Haseena’s marriage and her divorce case is pending in court.

Naqeeb Shah, who is not a registered ‘nikah khawan’ has denied his involved with the case. “I did not see the girl while performing the nikkh. Before the nikah, the witnesses told me that the girl’s age is 16,” Shah said. He confirmed the presence of three witnesses and also the girl’s father at the time when the nikkah was performed.

“They had covered the girl with her ‘dupatta’. I did have a doubt when I saw her hands when she was placing her thumb impression on the nikkah nama but her father assured me that she was old enough,” Shah added.

Zahida says that she had no idea what a nikkah means, adding that she was instructed to say yes. “I was told to say ‘yes’ three times and asked to give my thumb impression,” she said. However, she defended her father and said that he was innocent.

“My father did not know what he was doing and he committed the act after he was made to drink something. At the time of my nikah, my father was not present,” she said.

Meanwhile, Rasool has also denied his involvement in the case and said that he was given a drink laced with some medicine. “I was not present during the nikah ceremony and I have no recollection of it,” he added.

The police have detained all the arrested men under section 9 of Child Marriage Restrain Act (1925) and they would be produced in front of the magistrate today (Monday). Jamshed Town SP Javed Akbar Riaz said that the magistrate has the authority to take any decision in this regard. It is possible that Dilshad’s father would also be detained.

No comments: