Bengal teen’s grit saves her from forced marriage in Kashmir

Poor underage girls like Rahima getting forcibly married off to older men from other states is not something unheard of in West Bengal.

Published: 22nd April 2018 08:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2018 08:37 AM   |  A+A-

File Photo for Representational Purposes.

KOLKATA:  Unhappy with her forced marriage to a 50-year-old man, teenager Rahima (name changed) thought her ordeal had ended after escaping the ‘confinement’ of her in-laws in the Kashmir Valley. She was wrong.

Back home at Mathurapur in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district, the 15-year-old girl was shocked on being admonished by her father, who also told her to return to her husband. 

Poor underage girls like Rahima getting forcibly married off to older men from other states is not something unheard of in West Bengal. South 24 Parganas, Malda, Murshidabad, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts are often in news for child and human trafficking.  

Fortunately, Rahima approached her former school headmaster and gave him a written complaint regarding her misery. The headmaster forwarded the complaint to the Mathurapur police station and also to the Block Development Office on Wednesday evening.

In the complaint, Rahima said her father took the entire family to Kashmir on January 3 on the pretext of a trip and then married off her and her elder sister to two Kashmiri men. 

The girl gave details of her physical and sexual abuse, and added that she was kept confined within the house of 50-year-old Belal Ahmed Shiru. He was already married to two other women and had children, she claimed.It was her brother-in-law Yousuf, who, she said, helped her with train tickets of the Jammu Tawi Express to leave for home. The girl travelled alone for three days to reach Mathurapur on April 15.

After being ‘rejected’ by her parents, Rahima sought refuge at the girls’ hostel of her former school. School headmaster Chandan Kumar Maity says he fears the girl may have been ‘sold off’ to the Kashmiri due to abject poverty of the family.

West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Ananya Chakraborty said she had contacted the South 24 Parganas district magistrate.

“It was decided that the girl will stay in the school hostel for which no fees will be charged. The district administration will provide a monthly amount of Rs 2,000 to the girl,” Chakraborty told The Sunday Standard. 



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