Sex Trade

04.15.1311:19 AM ET

India’s ‘One-Month Marriage’ Racket

Muslim men are flocking to poor cities in India to take advantage of temporary “marriages” to young girls.

 There’s a new sex-trafficking scheme hitting India, and this one involves marriage.

Men from around the Islamic world have been traveling to Hyderabad, India, to purchase marriage contracts lasting four weeks. These “one-month marriages” provide men with young Indian wives, generally from poor families, who must consummate the short-term arrangements. Essentially, men—often already married—come to India with the intent of having religiously sanctioned sex with women other than their wives. Since Islam forbids prostitution, a short-term "marriage" is arranged instead, often with girls from impoverished families.

The phenomenon is now being exposed because of the bravery of 17-year-old Nausheen Tobassum who cooperated with police after escaping a “marriage” with a 44-year-old man from Khartoum, Sudan. The man, who was married with two children, allegedly paid Nausheen’s aunt $1,800 to marry and live with the girl during his stay in India. The marriage was reportedly presided over by a “qazi,” or Muslim judge who renders decisions according to Sharia, at Nausheen’s parents’ house. After the “ceremony,” Nausheen says her parents forced her to consummate the marriage with the man, who had also been guaranteed a "Talaknama," which allows for a swift divorce after the marriage interlude, upon the groom's departure from India. Nausheen, however, fled her home, found police, and reported her parents, who had allegedly forged documents suggesting that she was 24 instead of 17. A representative of Hyderabad's Women and Child Welfare Society, Shiraz Amina, told the Telegraph’s Dean Nelson that there were up to 15 contract marriages in Hyderabad every month, and the number is rising. Amina continued, "Thirty to forty percent of families are going for the option of contract marriages to relieve their poverty. It has to be stopped.”