Police in Hyderabad have launched an investigation after a 17-year-old girl revealed the scale of Islamic sex tourism in India, where Muslim foreigners are "buying" young girls from their families for sex.
The so-called "one month wives" has become an increasing problem in the city whereby wealthy men from the Middle East and Africa, local agents and government appointed Muslim priests who can conduct Islamic marriage ceremonies are conspiring to sell off girls from impoverished families - some as young as 12 - for four weeks at a time.
The 17-year-old victim, Nausheen Tobassum, managed to escape from her home last month after her parents forced her to consummate a "short term contract marriage", which is illegal in India and forbidden in Islam, to a 41-year-old Sudanese oil executive, who had paid £1200 to Nausheen's family.
In her statement to police, she described how she had been taken by a relative to a hotel where three other teenage girls were introduced to the man, father-of-two Usama Ibrahim Mohammed from Khartoum, who later arrived at Nausheen's home where an Islamic priest or "Qazi" had performed the wedding ceremony.
The Daily Telegraph quoted police officials as saying that the £1200 (Rs 100,000) was shared between the girl's aunt, Mumtaz Begum, Nausheen's parents, the Qazi and a translater.
The wedding certificate reportedly came with a 'Talaknama' which fixed the terms of the divorce at the end of the groom's holiday.
"The next day he came to the house of the victim girl and asked her to participate in sex but she refused. She is a young girl and the groom is older than her father," Inspector Kumar told The Telegraph.
Her parents reassured him they would persuade their daughter and told her she would be punished if she did not.
Instead she managed to run away from the family's home, in the Mogulpuri district of Hyderabad, before being picked up by a police patrol.
The groom was later arrested along with the aunt and the Qazi while her parents are said to have gone into hiding.
Reports say Nausheen Tobassum's case is not an isolated one with foreigners paying tens of thousands of rupees for short term marriages because they believe prostitution is forbidden under Islam and impoverished families in India are willing to offer up their daughters for the purpose.
The money is in turn used by parents to fund genuine weddings for their daughters.
Nausheen Tobassum, who is now living in a government home for girls said in an interview before she was placed in care, that she had filed a complaint to stop the same thing happening to other girls.
"I didn't know what was happening and I agreed in ignorance. They forced me. They changed my date of birth certificate and made a fake one, where I was shown as 24 years old. They exploit girls and that's why I went to police. I had to show courage to go to police against my parents. I don't want to go back to my home, I am scared," she said.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS