Since the Sindh Assembly passed the bill against underage marriage, Clifton police made their first arrest against parents violating the bill on Wednesday at around 2am.
As they raided the wedding function in upper Gizri, Clifton police took the bride and the groom, who hail from Rahim Yar Khan, into custody as well. Marriage of people under 18 years old was made illegal in the bill passed by the Sindh Assembly on April 28. Those who violate the law can be imprisoned for up to three years in jail.
When the police learned about the underage marriage from the girl’s uncle, Allah Dad, they headed to the location. “The family of the girl were forcing her to get married,” the girl’s uncle had claimed. “I repeatedly told them [the two families] it is illegal but they did not agree with me. Finally, I had to approach the police.”
When the police reached the girl’s house, she was about to leave with the groom’s family. “All the preparations for the rukhsati had been made when we raided,” said Clifton SHO Ghazala Perveen.
On Wednesday morning, the police produced the couple before a court, where the groom was granted bail.
The couple denied, however, the claims made by the uncle and insisted they were not forced into the marriage. “My mother arranged my wedding after my consent,” she said. The groom also said that both families mutually agreed on the marriage. “It was only my wife’s uncle who was unhappy with our marriage,” he said.
The family produced their nikah documents to the police that show that the girl is 18 years old. Allah Dad claimed, however, that she is 14 years old. The documents stated that the groom was born on January 1, 1968.
“We have yet to ascertain the actual facts and the age of the girl,” said the inquiry officer, Saeed, while talking to The Express Tribune. “The girl will be taken to the hospital to ascertain her age.” The police have refrained from registering the case until the girl’s age is confirmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2014.