FAISALABAD: Four people were arrested by Mochiwala police on Sunday on a girl’s complaint about her forced marriage to an elderly man to settle a loan her step-father had owed him.
Police said an FIR had been registered against the girl’s step-father Muhammad Nawaz, a resident of Chak 170, and husband 60-year-old Sher Muhammad under Sections 371-A, -B and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code. They said the nikah’khwan and three witnesses were also mentioned in the FIR. Raids were underway to arrest them, they added. Police said two relatives of Sher Muhammad had been arrested to question them about the whereabouts of others suspects.
The complainant, who said she was 12 years old, told police that her marriage with Sher Muhammad took place two months ago to settle a Rs110,000 loan her step-father had taken from him.
She said Sher Muhammad mostly kept her locked in a room at his house and beat her up whenever she requested him to free her. “Whenever I protested against the marriage and asked to be freed, he told me I was his property as he has purchased me from my father,” she added. She alleged that Muhammad’s younger brother sexually harassed her whenever Muhammad was away. She said she escaped on Sunday as Muhammad was away.
The child’s step-father said he had committed no crime. He said it was beyond his means to repay the debt so he had agreed to give the child in marriage to Sher Muhammad in return for the settlement of the debt. Mochiwala SHO Ayub Sahi said the girl would remain under police protection until someone from her family approached.
He said the child’s mother had yet to approach the police station. He quoted the child as saying that her mother had separated from Nawaz and was living with her parents. “The girl says she had wanted to go with her mother but her step-father did not allow her that,” the SHO said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2012.