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Delegation from AJK campaigns against forced marriages

Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: A delegation from Azad Kashmir is visiting British cities with heavy Azad Kashmir population to raise awareness about the perils of forced marriages and how this practice has ruined many lives.

The delegation from Azad Kashmir, which will speak in London, Bradford, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham, and sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is led by Hafiz Nazir Ahmed, the Mufti of Mirpur, and members of the Khari Sharif Welfare Society (KSWS) Azhar Mahmood, Malik Ilyas and Pervaiz Akhtar.

Azhar Mahmood told The News that his organisation was helping with the awareness campaign in Azad Kashmir and several initiatives have already been taken. He said forced marriages were unjust and cruel and led to murders and chaos in the families affected by the practice.

He said the biggest problem lied in communities who have migrated to Britain from Azad Kashmir. He informed that the delegation would be joined at the events in Pakistani communities by members of the forced marriages unit and the local councils.

Malik Ilyas, who will be speaking in Bristol, said forced marriages had damaged Pakistani communities all over the world. He said arranged marriages were a successful practice and there was no harm in such proposals where the marriages were being set as result of a consent from all parties but forcing people into marriages should be discouraged and outlawed.

He said many young people forced into marriages from their parents agreed to marriage but left their husbands and brides behind in Pakistan and there were hundreds of such examples in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. He said the issue of forced marriages needed to be dealt with heads on as it was a real challenge.

The Mufti of Mirpur told The News there is no concept of forced marriage in Islam. He said marriages without the consent of a man or a woman are against the teachings of Islam and Islam discouraged such cultural practices. He said Quran and Hadith clearly stated that women enjoyed rights and their approval was essential and anything that a women didn’t want shouldn’t be forced on her.

He said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) sought her daughter Hazrat Fatima’s (RA) approval before agreeing to her marriage with Hazrat Ali (RA), only after Hazrat Fatima (RA) consented to the proposal.

Welcoming the delegation, the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said forced marriage is an appalling, brutal and unacceptable practice. “It is recognised in the UK and around the world as a serious abuse of human rights. The visit of the Mufti and his colleagues is an important opportunity for that message to be reiterated in communities around the UK.”

Source: The News

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