Thiruvananthapuram: Pro-women activists, political leaders and NGOs in the State have voiced outrage over the plight of a 17-year-old girl, divorced by a UAE national within about two weeks of their marriage.
Setting aside their difference, they demanded a strong legislation to check the social menace known in local parlance as 'Arabi Kalyanam' (Arab wedding), in which minor Muslim girls are forced into marriage with Arab nationals without their consent.
Though the Malabar coast of north Kerala had a long history of 'Arabi Kalyanam", it is for the first time that such a case is being reported in two decades.
The latest case is from Kozhikode where a young girl, brought up in a charity home, was married to a UAE national on June 13. He abandoned her after honeymooning for 17 days and returned to his country.
In her complaint to the Child Welfare Committee, the girl alleged that it was the orphanage authorities who forced her into the marriage, which the charity outfit rejected outright.
Reacting to the issue, CPI-M Central Committee member and former minister P K Sreemathi said the incident was so shocking as it is unbelievable that such a thing has happened in Kerala, which has been known for its progressive outlook and women empowerment.
"It was nothing but an attempt to sell the modesty of an under-aged girl for monetary benefits. Not only the orphanage authorities but the UDF-led state government also could not absolve itself of the responsibility of the shameless incident," Sreemathi told PTI.
An attempt to suppress the issue by offering money to the girl's family was on and the authorities concerned should take immediate steps to ensure that such incidents were not happening any more in the state, she said. Bindu Kirshna, All-India Vice President of Mahila
Congress told PTI that this case should not be seen nothing but brutal rape and the society and parents should remain more alert against falling prey to such traps.
"Orphanages are places of charity and goodness once. But, now many of them are after money than fulfilling the responsibilities with which they were founded.
Profit motive of orphanage managements is the main reason behind the current incident," she said.
Malayali's passion for vanity also would lead to such tragedies, she said, adding, social consciousness should be awakened against such menace.
Rajitha G, an activist of pro-women outfit "Sakhi", said poor families mainly fall victims in such cases and community and local authorities should remain vigilant to check them.
"Poverty of families is being exploited by some vested groups. In many cases, parents are forced to give silent consent to such crimes because of their financial difficulties. Strict legislation should be initiated to curb them. Community leaders and local authorities could intervene in such cases more effectively," she said.