Child brides are on the rise in India’s towns and cities

(AFP)
Updated 02 June 2017

Child brides are on the rise in India’s towns and cities

NNEW DELHI:An increasing number of underage girls in India’s towns and cities are being married off, a study has revealed, challenging long-held assumptions that child marriage in the country is largely a rural phenomenon.
Child marriage is illegal in India, but it is deeply rooted and accepted in society, and remains widespread in parts of the country. Data from the 2011 census shows more than 5 million girls were married before the legal age of 18 — a marginal decrease from 2001.
Yet while the number of underage brides has declined by 0.3 percent in rural areas since 2001, they have increased by 0.7 percent in urban parts, said a report by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the charity Young Lives.
Experts said these percentage figures appear insignificant, but considering India has a population of 1.3 billion, this means tens of thousands more underage girls were married in towns and cities in the decade to 2011.
“What is interesting is that one didn’t expect a lot of the urban areas to figure in the high incidence districts, especially around the big metros,” Renu Singh, Young Lives’ country director, told a news conference late on Thursday.
“Also it is surprising that in the 10 to 14 age group, there are still large numbers of girls being married in urban areas. One was hoping and thinking that would not exist at all.”
The study — the first to break down India’s census data on child marriage — found nearly one out of four girls in rural areas and one out of five in urban areas was married below 18.
Some urban districts in states such as Uttar Pradesh in the north and Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south showed a rise in the number of underage brides from 2001 to 2011, the report said.
Singh said it was too early to know why incidence rates in certain towns and cities had inched higher, adding that more research was needed to understand the causes.
Along with Niger, Guinea, South Sudan, Chad and Burkina Faso, India is among the top 10 countries with the highest prevalence rates of child marriage, despite moves to empower girls and women and toughen penalties against the crime.
Poverty, weak enforcement of laws, patriarchal social norms and concerns about family honor are factors contributing to early marriage.
But the practice violates child rights — cutting across every part of women’s development and creating a vicious cycle of malnutrition, poor health and ignorance, experts say.
A child bride is more likely to drop out of school and have serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Her children are more likely to be underweight and will be lucky to survive beyond the age of five.


Exposed: UK Daesh cell fundraising for jailed jihadi brides

Updated 29 November 2020

Exposed: UK Daesh cell fundraising for jailed jihadi brides

  • Fake donation by undercover reporters reveals sophisticated terror network

LONDON: A Daesh fundraising operation based in the UK seeking to free Western jihadi brides from Syrian refugee camps has been exposed by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Undercover journalists spoke with a “fixer” in Turkey before exposing a “courier” in London collecting what he thought was a £4,500 ($5,987) donation to the operation.
But the brown envelope hidden at the “dead drop” by undercover journalists contained only a crossword book. In response to the revelations, London’s Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation.
The Syrian camps targeted by the operation for escape bids include Al-Hol, where Shamima Begum, who fled Britain aged 15 to join Daesh, was held.
A report last week revealed the existence of an Instagram group called Caged Pearls, run by British women detained in Al-Hol who are raising money to finance their escape from the camps.
The page promotes awareness of its mission through a poster reading: “Al-Hol — The cradle of the new Caliphate.”
One woman raising funds in the camp was named as “Sumaya Holmes,” who had been smuggled out of the camp and traveled to Turkey.
Holmes is said to be the widow of a British Daesh fighter who died in Syria, and the current wife of a Bosnian extremist serving jail time in his home country.
Holmes asks for donations on her Facebook page and posts pictures of women holding up posters begging for help.
One poster said: “I am a sister from camp Al-Hol and I need $6,000 so that I can escape from PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Please, I ask everyone to help me and donate as much as they can.”
Holmes captioned the image: “This is my friend and she is in need of help. She sent me this photo yesterday. Please, even if you can’t help, pass it to those who can donate to her.”
Another image posted by Holmes shows a woman holding a piece of paper that says: “I am your Muslim sister in Al-Hol camp. I need help from my brothers and sisters to be freed from the hands of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces). I need $7,000 to be able to get out with my children.” The message added: “You can trust Sumaya Holmes on Facebook, she is trying to help me raise money needed.”
A Mail on Sunday reporter posed as a drug dealer who had converted to Islam. They messaged Holmes on Facebook to offer support and money.
Holmes then requested to communicate on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app favored by extremists and criminals for its high levels of security and privacy.
She asked for a Bitcoin donation but the undercover reporter declined. She then suggested making a bank deposit in an associate’s account in Jordan, and then hawala, an Islamic method of transferring money that uses a broker system. But the undercover journalist declined again.
Holmes finally provided details of a man called “Anas” in London who could collect funds in person. When an offer to donate was made, Holmes accepted.
In the meantime, she had been actively posting her support for Daesh on Facebook. In one post, she described the Chechen who beheaded teacher Samuel Paty last month as a “hero.”
In London, a second undercover reporter set up a meeting with “Anas” to deliver cash for the operation.
But the reporter changed the plan and left an envelope containing only a crossword book at the agreed-upon location.
As the journalists watched carefully, a man wearing a white crash helmet soon arrived on a scooter.
He found the package and messaged the reporter: “File received, let me check the money and tell you.”
He soon discovered the ruse, telling the undercover reporter: “There are no money in the envelope, there is only a book? It seems that you are not serious about your subject.”
When confronted again, “Anas” denied any involvement in the exchange, which would be illegal under British law had the envelope contained cash. “No, no, I don’t take anything, you are wrong,” he said.
Later, Holmes also denied her involvement. “That’s not true, good luck with publishing your lies,” she said.
The latest estimates suggest that about 300 of the 900 Britons who traveled to Syria to join Daesh are back on British streets.
Dr. Vera Mironova, a Daesh expert and research fellow at Harvard University, said: “To escape from the camps costs about $18,000 and the success of these campaigns shows the sheer amount Daesh are able to raise online.”
She added: “Once the women are smuggled out, it is impossible to monitor them. The women who collect money online are still with Daesh and are trusted and supported by members worldwide. They work with a network of supporters globally.”