Arab wedding: Achuthanandan blames UDF govt circular on marriage age

CPI(M) blamed a circular issued by then Cong-led UDF govt as responsible for plight of a 17-year-old girl divorced by a UAE national in Kozhikode.

Thiruvananthapuram: CPI(M) on Wednesday blamed a controversial circular issued by the then Congress-led UDF government to give validity to marriages of Muslim girls of 16 years as responsible for the plight of a 17-year-old girl married and divorced by a UAE national in Kozhikode.

It was on the strength of this circular - now kept in abeyance - issued a few months ago that the authorities of the orphanage, where the victim had been living, forced her into the marriage, Opposition leader in the state assembly V S Achuthanandan said in a statement here.

"The state government, especially Social Welfare Minister M K Muneer, should come clean on the matter as they could not absolve their responsibility for the misfortune of the minor girl," Achuthanandan said.

The circular, issued by the Social Welfare Department, directed the marriage registration authorities to recognise marriages of Muslim girls who had attained 16 years of age at the time of wedding and grooms who had attained 18 years.

With the issue triggering widespread protests from political parties and social activists, the government later kept it in abeyance promising to issue a fresh one after looking into the entire gamut of the issue.

Attacking the government, Achuthanandan said this circular was issued in brazen violation of the law of the country that fixed the minimum age for marriage for women at 18 and as such the minister owed an explanation to the people.

Police have registered cases against the UAE national and nine others in connection with the marriage and divorce of the girl, the latest victim of a social menace known as "Arabi Kalyanam (Arabian wedding)", in which girls from Malabar coast are married by Arabs only to be abandoned a few days after sexual exploitation.

Though it was widely prevalent in parts of the region in the past it had virtually stopped in the last two decades after strong protests from social activists including those from the Muslim community.


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