A 17-year-old girl from Kerala, now abandoned by her husband from the UAE, has claimed she was forced into the marriage by a Muslim orphanage in Kozhikode, where she lived for 16 years. The marriage lasted a mere two weeks during which the girl alleges she was sexually abused by her husband.
The teenager says the man, after marrying her on June 13, took her to resorts in Calicut and Kumarakam and abused her sexually before deserting her on June 30.
The police filed a case with charges of rape, harassment for dowry apart from sections from the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children Against Sexual Harassment Act.
The State Human Rights Commission has asked the state police to file a detailed report on the case. "Though such practices are prevalent in certain parts of the state, this is a rare case where the victim has come forward to report it," a rights panel member said.
In her complaint to the rights panel, the girl's mother alleges the orphanage forced her daughter to marry the UAE national despite her desire to pursue studies. The mother said she gave her infant daughter away because of extreme poverty.
In its defence, the orphanage claims it has documents that show the consent of the mother for the marriage.
Ironically, the accused UAE national was born to parents married under the 'Arabi weddings', a practice prevalent among Muslims in a few districts of Kerala. The father of the accused had also left his wife back in Kerala before returning to his home abroad within a few days of the marriage.
A protest was organised in Kozhikode on Monday to seek justice in the case.
The controversy comes within a month of the annulment of a controversial government order legalising weddings of Muslim females above 16 years and males below 21 years of age.