There seems to be no respite for hapless young girls from Kerala who are married off in haste by their parents to grooms from other countries and even neighbouring states. If the smear of “Mysore Kalyanam” after decades-old “Arabi Kalyanam” blew the lid off marriage scams involving young Muslim girls of straitened means from north Kerala, the recent exposes regarding prisoners languishing in Male seems set to develop into another scam under the label “Male Kalyanam” where yet again at the receiving end are young Muslim girls pushed into ill-conceived marriages with men from Maldives.
Making it a deadly social issue is the dubious role played by some religious leaders and elders of the community in getting girls, in some cases even minors, married off to “foreign” grooms without their consent. True, the grooms splurge on the bride’s parents and relatives, before taking the young girls on honeymoon trips only to abandon them in a matter of months, leaving the same families to wallow in grief for years. The miseries heaped on these Indian wives in Male have been put in focus with the expose on the plight of Shefeeqa Beevi, who had been married off to Maldivian national Hassan Jabir on July 28, 2008.
She’s been in a Male jail for four-and-a-half years without proper trial, on the charge of killing her only child, a 10-month-old. She has almost no legal provision to prove her innocence, unless our government offers to help. Following close on heels of the trauma faced by Jayachandran Mokeri, a Vadakara native and teacher, whose unlawful confinement in Male jail could be ended only after state-level involvement, Maldives invites scrutiny by Indian government on its nationals languishing in jails in a nation that doesn’t allow international lawyers for trial. The onus is on our progressive society to educate the community leaders about the pitfalls of these “cross-border” marriages—whether the destination be Arabia or Maldives.