A district and sessions judge has annulled the marriage of a 12-year-old girl with a 45-year-old man and sent the latter, the child’s father and the cleric who solemnised the marriage to jail for two weeks.
An underage marriage complaint has been registered against the child’s father for selling his daughter in marriage to his landlord and the cleric at the Aroop police Station. The FIR has been registered under Sections 310-A (punishment for giving a female in marriage or otherwise in compensation for crime) and 371-A and B (selling a person for purposes of prostitution and buying a person for purposes of prostitution) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The child has been sent with her mother.
In a statement recorded by DSJ Muhammad Rasheed Qamar on Tuesday, the child accused the ‘bridegroom’ of locking her in his house on leaving for work every morning. She said she was brutally beaten up whenever she asked him to let her visit her parents.
The child said she had been sent with the man without getting her signatures or thumb impression on any marriage documents.
A marriage deed presented in the court, however, had thumb impressions attributed to the child.
Talking to The Express Tribune after Tuesday’s hearing, the child’s father said the marriage was solemnised two months ago. He said the ceremonies were postponed but on the groom’s insistence the child was later sent with him. He said the marriage was arranged to settle unpaid rent for his house. Also, he said, he could not afford to delay his daughter’s marriage as his income was not enough to sustain the family.
He said besides settlement of rents, the landlord had paid the family Rs3,000.
The landlord claimed that he had paid Rs60,000. At the court hearing, he also contended that the girl was not underage. “I have been married to her. I know she is not a child,” he said. The judge rejected the statement.
The child’s parents had originally approached the court for recovery of their daughter who, they said, had been detained against her will. They had also said that she had been subjected to severe beating and requested the court to order her production and release.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2012.