By A.B. Arisar
UMERKOT: The business of selling underage girls is flourishing in this part of the country with total immunity — due to extreme poverty, greed and other factors.A survey conducted by this correspondent revealed numerous deals under which parents married their underage age daughters to middle-aged and old men for the sake of dough — at times running in millions.
The practice is gaining grounds in Umerkot district and has attracted the attention of saner elements and authorities concerned.
The factors behind this deplorable trend are said to be extreme poverty, greed, brokers’ mafia and ruthlessness of feudal lords who satiate their false pride by making a mockery of people under their clamps.
Recently, mother of a 12-year-old deceased girl moved an application to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it is learnt.
The girl, Hanifa Mangrio, of Umerkot was married when she was 10 years of age in village Ismail Mahar near Ghotki and killed by her spouse after two years on the pretext of honour killing. He buried her without proper funeral.
Mirzadi, the mother being economically weak, raised her voice against the gruesome killing of her teenaged daughter but was coerced to keep shut.
She said that her deceased drug addict husband married their daughter to Allah Bux Mahar through Sher Mohammad Mangrio for Rs70,000.
Wailing the death of her innocent daughter, she blamed the chieftain Ismail Maher of village Muhammad Ismail Mahar in the jurisdiction of Yaro Lund Police Station, district Ghotki of her daughter’s death in November last.
Mirzadi claimed that Allah Bux put the girl in a ditch threatening to bury her alive if she did not confess to having illicit relations with a man. The girl refused to buckle down upon which he killed her. Though, police were aware of the murder but it kept mum.
However, the DPO Javed Sonhar Jiskani traced the killers and arrested chieftain Ismail Mahar when the news reached him.
Regretfully, culprits ensured their release after greasing the palms of police and the voice raised by the civil society died its own death.
Recently, a 10-year-old girl Rajbai d/o Murad Mangio of Umerkot was married off to 55-year-old Niaz Maher against Rs1.3 million while a girl of seven, Meena d/o Hanif hailing from Bhujbar was wedded to 45-year-old Hamid Rajar of Chondko Khipro for Rs1.1 million, said Abdul Karim Mangrio, Chairman Social Development Organisation.
However, neighbours of a girl eight years Zahida d/o Bilawal of Khonijo said that she had been bartered to 45-year-old Soomar Maher of Dharaki against a sum of Rs1.2 million and awaiting to be handed over.
More abhorring were the nuptials of two small daughters of late Chanisar from Jharkari – seven-year-old Zahida to 65-year-old Nawaz Ali Rajar who has a wife and nine children and five-year-old Wahidan to man whose age could not be ascertained. Both the sisters were waiting for the D-day when they would be delivered to ‘old men’ as their husbands.
Salim and Sher Mohammad Mangrio when contacted said that their role was to arrange a meeting between the buyer and the seller for which they get Rs10,000 to Rs40,000.
However, the poor but innocent souls in the grip of such circumstances were weary of their fate for they pass a life of tyranny, vigilance and isolation. Majority of these girls assume the role of a wife at the age of 13 along with serving their husbands and families.
It was reported that the sale of girls was an everyday practice in Mangrio, Gaju, Chanhio, Dars, Kharak, Punhoon, Kalar, Jinjh and Kohiri tribes.
The Social Development Organisation learnt through a survey that underage girls were sold through brokers and middlemen in Umerkot district and its surrounding areas, including Mangrio Mohalla, Chanhion Mohla, Rohal Wao, Vehro Sharif, Kharoro Charan, Dedihyo, Bhujbar, Kunbhar Bhada, Dheboori, Resham Jo Tar, Khario, Bachi Jo Tar, Baprario, Laplo, Jarkhili, Dhoronaro, Okraro, Khet Singh, Denoo Paplo, Tebhri, New Chhor, Kantio, Arnaro and Dharindaro.The mediators Sher Muhammad Sakerani, Saleem Mangrio, Soomar Chanhio, Soomar Gaju, Rawal, Mubarik Mangrio, Gulab Mangrio, Faqir Manthar Mangrio, Dinoo Paplo, Sardar Kundho Mangrio, Sain Bux, Badal Rajar and Muhammad Rahim Mangrio convince parents that the amount would turn the tide of their sufferings while providing luxurious lives to their daughters.
One such greedy father, Aarab who brokered her toddler of four calendars, laid the blame on extreme poverty and misguidance by middlemen and brokers for forcing him to indulge in this crime.
Child marriage is a crime and a serious human rights violation besides a rapidly growing social menace.
According to Hudood Ordinance (1979), a girl will be an adult either when she attains the age of 16 or puberty whichever is earlier, while a boy is deemed to be adult at the age of 18.
According to the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, if a male above 18 years marries a child, he shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to one month or fine.
The law also convicts any person either a parent or a guardian or in any other capacity, lawful or unlawful for encouraging or permitting such marriages and failure could invite punishment.
The DPO said that police had not been approached and whenever they were, they shall take stern action against the traffickers of girls. He appealed the people to make a strategy as administration alone cannot solve the menace.