The act of child prostitution is getting a whole 'nother level of terrible in Hyderabad, India. A 17-year-old girl who was sold to a Sudanese man as a "one month wife" ran away from her so-called husband, exposing the increase of such sham marriages for the purpose of sex tourism in the the country. The phenomenon is becoming increasingly popular, no thanks to government appointed Muslim priests called Qazis, local fixers and wealthy foreigners.
The concept of a 'one month marriage' is essentially a twisted way to allow for extramarital sex within the basic framework of Muslim law. Although short term, 'contractual' marriages are explicitly forbidden in Islam, wealthy Muslim sex tourists are taking advantage of a financially poor Muslim population in the Indian city of Hyderabad to "marry" young girls for a sum of money and divorce them one month later.
Nausheen Tobassum, the 17-year-old who revealed the scale of one month marriages in Hyderabad, was sold for roughly $1,800 to a Sudanese man to be his 'wife' (read: sex slave) for four weeks. Tobassum told the police she had been taken to a hotel by her aunt and introduced to her 'groom', a 44-year-old Sudanese oil exec named Usama Ibrahim Mohammed. Her parents received the largest share of his payment, followed by the local Muslim priest and a translator. She received 20,000 rupees herself, roughly $360. The man asked her to have sex with him the next day and Tobassum refused, even after her parents tried persuading her to. She ran away from her home and was picked up by the local police patrol.
The most sickening part of the whole transaction between the Sudanese man and his wife purchase was the amount of people who received cuts from Tobassum's sale. The teenager's parents were not only complicit in her sale, but so was the local "priest," a trusted religious leader in the community. "I didn't know what was happening and I agreed in ignorance… They exploit girls and that's why I went to the police," said Tobassum, who is now living in a government home, "I had to show my courage to go to police against my parents. I don't want to go back home, I am scared."
Inspector Vijay Kumar of the Hyderabad police laid down the cold logic behind Sudanese sex tourists flocking to Hyderabad: "If a Sudanese wants to have sex, he has to pay three times more [in Sudan] because there are far fewer girls there, or he takes a second wife. In India, the girls are coming for cheaper rate and they are beautiful." And that's what capitalist logic sounds like when it's applied to the sex trade.
"They come to Hyderabad because it has maximum downtrodden families," said Shiraz Amina Khan of Hyderabad's Women and Child Welfare society. "Thirty to forty per cent of families are going for he option of contract marriages to relieve their poverty." Shiraz says that there are up to 15 contract marriages in Hyderabad per month, and that number is likely to rise.
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