Stories about child marriages

India’s contract marriages: When Sheikhs marry, rape and divorce child brides, all in one week

Poverty is not a crime, but it surely is a curse for docile Muslim girls in the poverty-driven city of Hyderabad, India. Why, you ask? Because young girls from impoverished families are forced to marry ageing and rich men. Since the 90s, Hyderabad has been a hunting ground for the rich philanderers from oil-rich countries to seek young and virgin brides. Over the years, numerous unfortunate stories of teenaged brides wedded to ageing Arabs have unfolded at regular intervals. Recently, 20 people were arrested in a major crackdown against a ‘Sheikh marriage’ racket, which hints towards a much greater issue. Amidst poor living conditions and rising ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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Dear PEMRA, why can’t Hamza Ali Abbasi talk about the plight of Ahmadis without being threatened or banned?

Pakistan is the land of topsy-turvy, where the righteous are punished and the wrongdoers thrive. In what is a thoroughly perplexing decision, The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban on Hamza Ali Abbasi’s Ramazan program. What was his crime? To open a dialog on his show on the plight of one of the most viciously persecuted minorities in Pakistan, the Ahmadis. Not a few days ago, Hamza Ali Abbasi asked why Ahmadis were treated so poorly in the country and why we were so afraid to talk about it: “The community is being suppressed but if you talk about it, ...

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Imran Khan hasn’t carried balls since he stopped playing cricket

(Author’s note: Blog and blog title refer to cricket balls only. Puns not intended). Here we go. Another day, another Imran Khan statement reflecting a worryingly right-wing mind-set. This much is clear: Like the countless who voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in the last General Elections, I shall not be voting for a political party that is full of so much hot air it should be floating around the world, that holds a country hostage through street politics, that is both outsmarted and manipulated, that consistently panders to the single biggest threat in the history of this country: the religious preachers. There is a ...

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Why do Pakistanis cheer Brandon Stanton, but attack Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy?

Like so many in Pakistan, I was pleased when American photo-blogger Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, visited the country to tell the stories of every day Pakistanis. As with his other excellent work, Brandon shared some moving tales, creating empathy as only he can. At the end of his Pakistan series, Brandon moved on to a despicable social ill of Pakistan: Bonded Labour, which is used to victimise thousands of Pakistanis and has been described as modern day slavery by the United Nations. Like any good journalist, Brandon highlighted the issue by sharing several heart-breaking stories alongside striking photos while relating some ...

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Should #WeDisownSharmeen?

It was yet another proud moment for Pakistan when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy held up her second Oscar for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. To begin with, her being nominated for a second time was good enough, but winning a second Oscar came as a welcome surprise for me. Unfortunately, most people don’t share the same sentiments as I do. Many are celebrating her success, but most are bashing her for portraying Pakistan in a negative light… yet again. But why? Are we enraged over the fact Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy projected the stark reality or are we upset we ...

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He went from being her uncle to the father of her child, and no one saved her

Saima was 10-years-old when she was taken from her school located in a small town in Mitiari by her khaalu (maternal aunt’s husband). He told the teacher that Saima’s mother was very sick and she needed to be taken to her at the earliest. He arrived at the village, along with the little girl who had no idea what was about to happen with her. He asked her to stay at his house till her parents returned from the hospital, and she responded with affirmation. Two days passed by and Saima was eager to see her parents but they had not returned from the hospital as yet. Saima ...

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Falling for glittery dreams

His mother was his fulcrum. The centre point upon which his whole life balanced, precariously. His mother had never had an easy day in her life. Ravaged by poverty from a young age, she was bestowed in marriage to a man who was 20 years her senior.  Her main purpose in life was to be an avenue for procreation and to remain devoutly obedient to her husband; that was the way life was lived in these regions. If she had no choice in who she married, she could mould her children in any manner she pleased. Instead of being harsh on them, she chose to ...

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Dear Pakistani sisters, your suffering is in your hands

Tabassum Adnan became a victim of child marriage at the age of 13. It took 20 years for this woman from Pakistan’s Swat Valley to gather the courage to divorce her husband and end a nightmare of physical and mental abuse. According to a US Department of State press release, this move caused her to lose her home, money and children. But she had no choice but to look forward, and this year she has been awarded the Secretary of State International Women of Courage Award in recognition of her NGO Khwendo jirga (Sister’s Council). [email protected] & @AmbCathyRussell present the brave and amazing 2015 #WomenofCourage. ...

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I decided to find another wife for my husband

“If I had another wife, she’d have the house clean and a fancy dinner ready every time I came home,” he said, only half-joking and not for the first time. “Maybe I should just marry another woman. A proper Arab wife.” I looked up at him. “Maybe you should.” That night, I sent a message to several women I knew, asking them to find a second wife for my husband. And then I lay in bed and imagined what this woman would be like, the woman who would make my husband happy, who would be everything I was not, who would be ...

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