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The recent case of the forced marriage of an eight year old girl in Karachi (and the ones reported earlier) indicate that this custom is very common in the country, particularly in the rural areas. In the cities too, unless someone reports the incident to the police, the culprits are not punished. I remember the case of a thirty year old maid in my house whose husband was a drug addict and used to beat her up daily if she failed to give him money. Finally, she asked my wife for help, and we hired a female lawyer to help her get a divorce.
As soon as her husband received the divorce notice, he came with six armed persons to my house demanding that we hand the maid’s female children over to him. I asked him why he only wanted the female children, not the boys or the woman herself. He explained that he would get good money by giving the girls away in marriage (even though they were minors). When I told him that child marriage was against the laws of the country as well as un-Islamic, he shrugged and said that in his community it was very common. Apparently the mullahs in backward areas also don’t know anything about Islam.
Shakir Lakhani
www.chowrangi.com

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