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    Default The Arab world...

    The Arab world needs to admit it's racist

    4.6.2017

    Racism is a problem in the Arab world, yet too many people in the region deny it. Last week, an Ethiopian domestic worker fell from the balcony of her employer’s home in Kuwait. It was caught on camera, and though the woman survived, she later revealed that her employer was trying to kill her.


    "The lady put me in the bathroom and was about to kill me in the bathroom without anybody finding out," the worker said.


    "She would have thrown my body out like rubbish, so instead of staying there I went to save myself and then I fell."


    This isn’t an isolated incident. Many Arab countries have maintained the kafala – or sponsorship system – which ties the legal status of low-wage migrant workers directly to their employer, giving the latter power to take away workers’ passports, withhold their salaries, and subject them to harrowing abuse.


    In Arab countries where kafala isn’t applied, refugees and non-Western migrants are routinely abused by the state, their host community, and even aid organisations that were founded to help them.


    The irony is disturbing. In a world where Muslims and Arabs have long been subjected to racism and imperial conquest, too many Arab societies have failed to consider how they treat the most vulnerable migrants living among them.


    And here lies the most obvious paradox: how can a society defeat racism when they perpetuate it themselves?


    A worker, not a slave


    Last year, the US State Department’s Trafficking in Person’s report listed six Arab States on their watch list. Each country on the list apart from Lebanon is a member of the Gulf Cooporation Council (GCC). The kafala system, however, is something they all have in common.


    In places, such as Qatar and Kuwait, more than 90 percent of the labour force is imported from South and Southeast Asia and Africa. Most workers elect to migrate to these countries since it remains one of few viable options to support their families back home.


    Recruiters do their part to lure workers by propagating false promises of a fair wage and a day off each week. It’s not until many workers arrive that they realise they’ve been trafficked into performing slave-like labour which they would have never consented to.


    The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that more than 4,000 low wage workers will die while building infrastructure for Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup.


    Four months ago, Qatar modified their labor laws, which they claimed would better protect the rights of migrant workers. However, rights groups said that the reforms barely ‘scratch the surface’ in terms of safeguarding against abuse and exploitation.


    Qatari officials have refused to own up and have instead accused rights groups of spreading "negative publicity" about their country. This rebuttal is as ridiculous as it is self-centred. If Qataris are that concerned with their image in the global arena, then they should abolish a system that functions to enslave people.


    Dying to escape


    Domestic migrant workers – generally women – are even more vulnerable. In Lebanon, they are excluded from basic protections under the labour law. And like elsewhere in the region, many are locked indoors and routinely subjected to starvation, rape and death. The female head of the household is sometimes the perpetrator, or in the very least, complicit in the abuse.


    In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that at least one domestic migrant worker in Lebanon was dying each week as a result of "unnatural causes" such as alleged suicide or after suspiciously falling from tall buildings. Activists suspect that the rate of deaths remains just as high today.


    Politicians never seem to take the mistreatment of migrant workers seriously enough. Former Lebanese labour minister Sejaan Azzi went so far as to say that abuse against domestic workers was "‘exaggerated" despite mounting evidence to the contrary.


    Local rights groups have nonetheless lobbied tirelessly in support of migrant workers, yet large segments of Lebanese society continue to normalise racism.


    It’s no secret, for instance, that domestic workers from Africa and South Asia are typically the cheapest to recruit. Filipino workers are at the top of the racial hierarchy because of their lighter skin. While their wages are also abysmal, they generally receive more money.


    Two years ago, a group of Lebanese mothers also formed an NGO to "defend their treatment" of migrant workers. One member of the group, Helen Atala Geara, argued that if domestic workers joined unions and fought for their rights, they wouldn’t be available to fulfill the needs of the household.


    This logic is terrifying. Geara’s argument has been reused by generations of misogynist men to subjugate women. And now Arab women like her, who have been excluded from white mainstream feminism, are failing to defend those trapped in the kafala system.


    Fifty shades of racism

    Elsewhere in the region, racism exposes itself in more subtle ways. Members of Egypt’s Nubian community, for instance, are often portrayed as servants in the media and scapegoated for street violence.


    And yet, Nubian activists say that they are still treated better than sub-Saharan migrants and refugees. In Egypt, the darker you are, the harsher the discrimination.


    That was obvious after a senior Egyptian official allegedly called sub-Saharan Africans "dogs and slaves" during a diplomatic visit to Kenya last year.


    As expected, Egypt’s regime denied the allegations and claimed to be insulted that their African pride would even be questioned. But this case isn’t an exception, it’s the norm.


    The Arabic word for "slave" is often colloquially used to address black Africans in the Middle East. Just think about the uproar – and how justified the anger – when racists refer to Arabs in an equally degrading way.


    Jordan enacts the same double standard. Last year, Queen Rania of Jordan spoke out against rising Islamophobia and in support of Syrians in Europe. She went so far to say that "refugees are not numbers, but human beings like you and me".


    Her words might still resonate if Jordan hadn't deported 800 Sudanese refugees for demonstrating against the UN refugee agency later that year.


    Of course, racism is not exclusive to the Arab world, but neither is it immune. Not enough people speak out when they see a person of colour being harassed, and it seems that even fewer bat an eyelid after one has been killed.


    It’s time more Arabs defend the rights of others as much as they defend their own. Racism is rampant in the region, and only solidarity, not denial, can beat it.

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns...ist-1311740542

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    Why Saudi Arabia would rather pay a ransom to Trump than support its own people

    The price tag of an audience with Donald Trump is high, and rising. Saudi Arabia has already pledged an estimated $300bn in defence contracts over the next decade and $40bn in infrastructure investment. The final figure, according to some on Wall Street, could yet rise to $1 trillion of investment in the US economy.

    By the time he touches down in Riyadh on Friday, Trump will have bagged the biggest arms deal in US history. He will have made good on his promise to make the House of Saud pay – even for rockets it may never use.

    If there is a war with Iran, it will be the US that fights it. South Korea, a country much closer to a shooting match with its neighbour, is proving to be a tougher buyer of American anti-missile defence systems. It is balking at paying $1bn for the THAAD system. Not so Riyadh.

    The White House was jubilant at the effect this unexpected windfall of Saudi cash could have on jobs back home. The official readout of the meeting that took place last month between Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump said as many as one million jobs could be created directly at home, and millions more in the supply chain.

    The question being asked by Saudis who, unlike the 31-year-old prince, cannot afford to buy, on a whim, a Russian billionaire’s yacht or a chain of islands in the Maldives, is this one: “How in God’s name can you shower so much money on the Americans when you are so reluctant to do so on your own people?”

    The official unemployment rate is 12 percent, and the real one is much higher. They are struggling to put doctors in hospitals and the kingdom’s largest fund that pays the pensions of public sector workers and the military, the General Retirement Foundation, announced last week its reserves had been depleted.

    Which statement of Deputy Economy Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri do most Saudis believe? The one in which he announced the kingdom had reduced its first quarter deficit by more than a half, due to austerity, or the earlier one in which he warned that the kingdom would be bankrupt within four years if the oil price remained at between $40 and $45 a barrel? He was not the only one. The IMF too warned the kingdom faced bankruptcy. Which Saudi does not think more austerity, and a new VAT tax, are around the corner?
    Bygone days of desks and wheelchairs

    There are two possible reasons why the kingdom is prepared to shower their richer American cousins with more riches.

    The first is a personal one. Mohammed bin Salman is paying a king’s ransom, or at least he sincerely hopes it will be. Long gone are the days when gifts of state were modest. One of the exhibits in the museum of the founder of the kingdom, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, in Riyadh is a modest desk that President Franklin D Roosevelt gave him after their first meeting on board a US destroyer. He also got one of the US president’s two wheelchairs. These days a desk or a wheelchair would be an insult, compared to the kickback for an arms contract.

    The second is a collective reason. The kingdom got such a shock from an Obama administration which made peace with Iran its main objective, that it never wants to feel exposed to the desert winds again. Saudi Arabia is paying protection money even for arms it is never likely to use.

    It would, however, be premature to take Bin Salman’s claims for granted. Even if that is his ambition, does Bin Salman yet speak for his country or even the royal family? He is still one removed from inheriting the throne, and his elder – and some would say wiser – cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, has no intention of surrendering the pole position of crown prince.
    Fallout in Yemen

    All crown princes lie low and say nothing. Bin Nayef is still in charge of one of three military forces in the kingdom, the powerful interior ministry which controls the borders. It has not been uncommon for foreign visitors invited by Bin Salman to spend awkward moments being questioned at Bin Nayef’s border control, just to send a message. Bin Nayef in private remains quietly confident.

    Bin Nayef initially backed the air campaign his younger cousin, the defence minister, launched against the Houthis in Yemen. There are rumours that he does not now. The latest disaster to befall Bin Salman is the fall out that has taken place between the Yemeni president whose legitimacy he is protecting, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, and Saudi’s chief military ally, the Emirati crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed.

    After a shouting match between Hadi and Bin Zayed in February over the control of Aden Airport, Bin Zayed’s Yemeni allies have seceded from the exiled president’s control, splitting the forces attempting to retake Yemen from the Houthis into at least two factions. The politics of Bin Salman are in chaos. He depends on Hadi as the source of legitimacy for his air strikes, but has to prevent him from flying to the liberated south of Yemen.

    Bin Zayed, for his part, is not willing to give in. He has always had a bigger prize in Yemen than the Iranian-backed Houthis. Indeed, as I first reported, he first encouraged the Houthis to rise against Hadi until their insurrection got out of control. His target is the eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah movement.

    Through the son of the former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, bin Zayed is pursuing active negotiations with the Houthis’ main military partner. And through his surrogates Bin Zayed is intent on pursuing his original objectives.

    Bin Zayed is nothing if not consistent.

    What if

    Let us just play a mind game. Let us imagine that, instead of opposing the Arab Spring and the popular uprisings of 2011, Saudi Arabia decided to invest and develop the Arab world. Let us imagine that the House of Saud put $340bn into backing the results of free elections in Egypt, and Libya and Yemen, instead of backing military coups and counter-revolutions.

    Where would the House of Saud and the Arab world be now? It would not be plain sailing. The first rulers to come to power after dictatorship would long since have been kicked out, but at least a tradition would have been established to use the ballot box rather than the bullet to do so.

    Economies would be well on the way to transition. The Arab world would be full of Western tourists. The beaches of Tunisia and the pyramids of Egypt would not now be empty. There might be a secession movement in Sinai, but there would not be the Islamic State presence there. The jihadis would long since have gone back to their caves in Afghanistan. They would have regarded their mission as a failure.

    The House of Saud, the bankers of peaceful change, would now be hailed as heroes. They could have had as many luxury yachts or islands as they wanted. They would not need to pay Trump blood money. How more secure their world would now be if they had already embarked on the only journey left for them: one from absolute to constitutional monarchy.

    What is taking place in the region today is a history lesson for slow learners. Trump is looking forward to the welcome he will get in Riyadh, a distraction from the storm clouds gathering at home. But his administration is looking, even to Republican eyes, as one that is spiralling downwards. As it is, 56 Muslim and Arab leaders will gather in Riyadh to listen to Trump giving them a lecture on democracy and preach to them about Islam. What a strange world we live in.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...ts-own-people/

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    Dubai: No More 90 Days Tourist Visa for Philippines and Pakistan Nationals

    6/1/2017

    As of today, 1st of June, 90-day Dubai tourist visas will no longer be given to nationals of the Philippines and Pakistan.

    A memo was circulated earlier today by Dubai Immigration to all travel agencies instructing them to stop accepting applications for the 90 days tourist visa to those two nationalities and only allow 14 days or 30 days visa.

    Applications made yesterday will still be valid, and anyone already holding a 90 days visa will still be able to use it.

    A manager at a Dubai travel agency commented: “We are not sure whether this is a temporary or permanent stop. As of now we have been instructed not to accept applications. There is a possibility that we process the applications through an other Emirate but will definitely have higher restrictions and would be more costly”.

    https://uaeviral.com/dubai-no-more-9...stan-nationals

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    Why Dubai's Islamic austerity is a sham – sex is for sale in every bar

    Couples who publicly kiss are jailed, yet the state turns a blind eye to 30,000 imported prostitutes

    by William Butler - 16 May 2010

    The bosomy blonde in a tight, low-cut evening dress slid on to a barstool next to me and began the chat: Where are you from? How long are you here? Where are you staying? I asked her what she did for a living. "You know what I do," she replied. "I'm a whore."

    As I looked around the designer bar on the second floor of the glitzy five-star hotel, it was obvious that every woman in the place was a prostitute. And the men were all potential punters, or at least window-shoppers.

    While we talked, Jenny, from Minsk in Belarus, offered me "everything, what you like, all night" for the equivalent of about £500. It was better if I was staying in the luxurious hotel where we were drinking, she said, but if not she knew another one, cheaper but "friendly". I turned down the offer.

    This was not Amsterdam's red-light district or the Reeperbahn in Hamburg or a bar on Shanghai's Bund. This was in the city centre of Dubai, the Gulf emirate where western women get a month in prison for a peck on the cheek; the Islamic city on Muhammad's peninsula where the muezzin's call rings out five times a day drawing believers to prayer; where public consumption of alcohol prompts immediate arrest; where adultery is an imprisonable offence; and where mall shoppers are advised against "overt displays of affection", such as kissing.

    Ayman Najafi and Charlotte Adams, the couple recently banged up in Al Awir desert prison for a brief public snog, must have been very unlucky indeed, because in reality Dubai is a heaving maelstrom of sexual activity that would make the hair stand up on even the most worldly westerner's head. It is known by some residents as "Sodom-sur-Mer".

    Beach life, cafe society, glamorous lifestyles, fast cars and deep tans are all things associated with "romance" in the fog-chilled minds of Europeans and North Americans. And there is a fair amount of legitimate "romance" in Dubai. Western girls fall for handsome, flash Lebanese men; male visitors go for the dusky charms of women from virtually anywhere. Office and beach affairs are common.

    But most of the "romance" in Dubai is paid-for sex, accepted by expatriates as the norm, and to which a blind eye is turned – at the very least – by the authorities. The bar where "Jenny" approached me was top-of-the-range, where expensively dressed and coiffured girls can demand top dollar from wealthy businessmen or tourists.

    There are lots of these establishments. Virtually every five-star hotel has a bar where "working girls" are tolerated, even encouraged, to help pull in the punters with cash to blow. But it goes downhill from there. At sports and music bars, Fillipinas vie with the Russians and women from the former Soviet republics for custom at lower prices. In the older parts of the city, Deira and Bur Dubai, Chinese women undercut them all in the lobbies of three-star hotels or even on the streets (although outside soliciting is still rare).

    It is impossible to estimate accurately the prostitute population of Dubai. The authorities would never give out such figures, and it would be hard to take into account the "casual" or "part-time" sex trade. One recent estimate put the figure at about 30,000 out of a population of about 1.5 million. A similar ratio in Britain would mean a city the size of Glasgow and Leeds combined entirely populated by prostitutes.

    Of course, there are other cities in the world where the "oldest profession" is flourishing. But what makes Dubai prostitution different is the level of acceptance it has by the clients and, apparently, the city's Islamic authorities. Although strictly illegal under United Arab Emirates' and Islamic law, it is virtually a national pastime.

    I have seen a six-inch-high stack of application forms in the offices of a visa agent, each piece of paper representing a hopeful "tourist" from Russia, Armenia or Uzbekistan. The passport-sized photographs are all of women in their 20s seeking one-month visas for a holiday in the emirate.

    Maybe young Aida from Tashkent – oval-eyed and pouting – will find a few days' paid work as a maid or shop assistant while she's in Dubai, and maybe she will even get an afternoon or two on the beach as her holiday. But most nights she will be selling herself in the bars and hotels and the immigration authorities know that. So must the visa agent, who gets his cut out of each £300 visa fee.

    The higher you go up the Emirati food chain, the bigger the awards.
    All UAE nationals are entitled to a number of residence visas, which they routinely use to hire imported domestics, drivers or gardeners. But they will sell the surplus to middlemen who trade them on to women who want to go full-time and permanent in the city. The higher the social and financial status of the Emirati, the more visas he has to "farm".

    Thousands of women buy entitlement to full-time residence, and lucrative employment, in this way. Three years in Dubai – the normal duration of a residence visa – can be the difference between lifelong destitution and survival in Yerevan, Omsk or Bishkek.

    With a residence visa changing hands at upwards of £5,000 a time, it is a nice sideline, even for a wealthy national. And it also ensures a convenient supply of sex for Emiratis, who form a large proportion of the punters at the kind of bar where I met "Jenny". Arabs from other countries are high up the "johns" list, with Saudis in particular looking for distraction from life in their austere Wahabist homes with booze and sex-fuelled weekends in Dubai's hotels.

    The other big category of punters is Europeans and Americans, and it is remarkable how quickly it all seems normal. A few drinks with the lads on a Thursday night, maybe a curry, some semi-intoxicated ribaldry, and then off to a bar where you know "that" kind of girl will be waiting. In the west, peer group morality might frown on such leisure activities, but in Dubai it's as normal as watching the late-night movie.

    Male residents whose families are also in Dubai might be a little constrained most of the year – you could not really introduce Ludmilla from Lvov, all cleavage and stilettos, as a work colleague with whom you wanted to "run over a few things on the laptop". But in the long, hot summer it is different. Wives and families escape the heat by going to Europe or the US, and the change that comes over the male expat population is astounding. Middle-aged men in responsible jobs – accountants, marketeers, bankers – who for 10 months of the year are devoted husbands, transform in July and August into priapic stallions roaming the bars of Sheikh Zayed Road.

    Tales are swapped over a few beers the next night, positions described, prices compared, nationalities ranked according to performance. It could be the Champions League we are discussing, not paid-for sex.

    I've heard financial types justifying it as part of the process of globalisation, another manifestation of the west-east "tilt" by which world economic power is gravitating eastwards.

    In my experience, many men will be unfaithful if they have the opportunity and a reasonable expectation that they will not be found out. For expats in Dubai, the summer months provide virtual laboratory conditions for infidelity.

    Above all, there is opportunity. There is the Indonesian maid who makes it apparent that she has no objection to extending her duties, for a price; the central Asian shop assistant in one of the glittering malls who writes her mobile number on the back of your credit card receipt "in case you need anything else"; the Filipina manicurist at the hairdresser's who suggests you might also want a pedicure in the private room.

    Even though selling sex is haram (forbidden) under Islamic law, the authorities rarely do anything about it
    . Occasionally, an establishment will break some unwritten rule. Cyclone, a notorious whorehouse near the airport, was closed down a few years back, but then it really did go too far – a special area of the vast sex supermarket was dedicated to in-house oral sex. When the authorities ordered it to be closed, the girls simply moved elsewhere.

    There are occasional stories in the local papers of human trafficking rings being broken up and the exploiters arrested, but it is low-level stuff, usually involving Asian or Chinese gangs and Indian or Nepalese girls. The real problem is the high-end business, with official sanction. Even with the emirate's financial problems, Sodom-sur-Mer is flourishing. But would-be snoggers beware – your decadent behaviour will not be tolerated.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...m-prostitution

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    Sex Tourism in the Muslim World

    by 5 Pillarz - August 24, 2013

    The issue of sex tourism is somewhat a taboo among Muslim communities in Europe and Muslim majority countries, as are gender politics, writes Dr Ilyas Mohammed.

    Often Muslims do not address the issue because it highlights the negative side of indigenous cultures, which they fear will encourage attacks from Islamophobes. Some Muslims may perceive discussions on this topic as another “attack on Islam and Muslims”. While Muslim and non-Muslim academics, writers and journalists maybe unwilling to engage in debates around “sex tourism” in the Muslim world, in fear of possible backlash from certain segments of the Muslim community, which in extreme cases can be violent.

    However, regardless of the reasons for inaction, they are indefensible because the lives of women and girls are being destroyed and human rights are being violated. In recent years there have been a lot reports that suggest Muslim majority countries are fast becoming destinations for sex tourism for Muslim men, albeit wealthy Arab men.

    Sex tourism

    This type of tourism is often justified by the protagonists through nikah mut‘ah (temporary marriage contract usually practiced by the Shia), even though it is simply “buying and selling sex”. By employing the criteria of nikah mut‘ah, the “practice”, the “men” and “women” involved often claim Islamic validity.

    Some media outlets have called the practice “prostitution” and suggested that it is connected to “child sex tourism”, specifically naming Egypt as a destination, especially during the summer months, with victims often being girls from poor families:

    “Egypt’s illegal child sex tourism trade appears to have put a regional-friendly spin on the practice by portraying the buying and selling of children as a form of marriage, thus giving them a thin veneer of religious acceptability by circumventing Islamic rules against premarital sex. (Despite a 2008 law banning child marriages, enforcement is thought to be low.)”

    An investigation by an Egyptian government body, the Child Anti-Trafficking Unit at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, found that 75 percent of respondents in surveyed rural communities knew girls who were involved in the trade and that most believed that rate was increasing. It estimated that the vast majority of the buyers came from Gulf countries, with 81 percent from Saudi Arabia, 10 percent from the United Arab Emirate and 4 percent from Kuwait. The study estimates that a summer-long marriage, usually lasting the duration of a seasonal Gulf tourist’s visit, cost about $2,800 to $10,000. The unions can at times last a year or two, though; the “bride” is typically expected to travel back to her buyer’s home country where she may work as a domestic. One-day marriages can cost as little as $115. (Washington Post, 6 August 2013)

    Other countries that have been highlighted as destinations for sex tourism for Muslim men include Indonesia and India.

    India

    “Campaigners for Muslim women’s rights said while short term ‘contract marriages’ are illegal in India and forbidden in Islam, they are increasing in Hyderabad, in southern India, where wealthy foreigners, local agents and ‘Qazis’ – government-appointed Muslim priests – are exploiting poverty among the city’s Muslim families. The victim, Nausheen Tobassum, revealed the scale of the problem when she escaped from her home last month after her parents pressurized her to consummate a forced marriage to a middle aged Sudanese man who had paid around £1,200 for her to be his ‘wife’ for four weeks.” (The Telegraph, 14 April 2013)

    Indonesia

    “A growing number of Saudi Arabian men are temporarily marrying Indonesian prostitutes to have sex with so that they don’t technically engage in non-marital sex. Therefore, in their opinion, their sexual relations with a prostitute are religiously lawful.” (Altmuslimah, 13 August 2011)

    Nikah mut‘ah has historically been considered a Shiite Muslim custom but Sunnis consider the practice to be haram (forbidden). In the present context, especially in Muslim countries it’s impossible to know if the men engaging in the practice are Sunni, Shiite or just men who cannot control their sexual desires.

    Regardless of doctrinal interpretations, the practice has no relevance in today’s world because it is promoting the exploitation of women, girls and poor vulnerable families. Therefore, it must be condemned and fought against, not only by child protection and anti-prostitution agencies, governments and human rights organizations but also by Muslims. The lead in the fight must come from the everyday Muslims and the mosques, failure to do so will only legitimise exploitation of women and girls and foster condition of human trafficking and abuse.

    http://www.5pillarz.com/2013/08/24/s...-muslim-world/


    Bride bazaar: 8 sheikhs from Oman, Qatar arrested for trying to marry minor girls in Hyderabad


    September 20, 2017

    The Hyderabad Police on Tuesday busted a racket and arrested eight foreign nationals from Oman and Qatar, who were trying to marry minor girls from Hyderabad.

    Police also arrested three quazis, including chief Quazi of Mumbai for performing illegal marriages.

    The foreigners called as sheikhs are in their 70s are believed to be using steroids to make themselves 'active' and been visiting the city in the pretext of medical treatment.

    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/bride-bazaar-foreign-nationals-minor-girls-hyderabad/1/1052099.html


    Underage Girls Are Egypt’s Summer Rentals

    By Cam McGrath - Aug 5 2013

    Each summer, wealthy male tourists from Gulf Arab states flock to Egypt to escape the oppressive heat of the Arabian Peninsula, taking residence at upscale hotels and rented flats in Cairo and Alexandria. Many come with their families and housekeeping staff, spending their days by the pool, shopping, and frequenting cafes and nightclubs. Others come for a more sinister purpose.

    In El Hawamdia, a poor agricultural town 20 kilometres south of Cairo, they are easy to spot. Arab men in crisp white thawbs troll the town’s pot-holed, garbage-strewn streets in their luxury cars and SUVs. As they arrive, Egyptian fixers in flip flops run alongside their vehicles, offering short-term flats and what to them is the town’s most sought-after commodity – underage girls.

    Each year, in El Hawamdia and other impoverished rural communities across Egypt, thousands of girls between the ages of 11 and 18 are sold by their parents to wealthy, much older Gulf Arab men under the pretext of marriage. The sham nuptials may last from a couple of hours to years, depending on the negotiated arrangement.

    “It’s a form of child prostitution in the guise of marriage,” Azza El-Ashmawy, director of the Child Anti-Trafficking Unit at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) tells IPS. “The man pays a sum of money and will stay with the girl for a few days or the summer, or will take her back to his country for domestic work or prostitution.”

    The girl is returned to her family when the marriage ends, usually to be married off again.

    “Some girls have been married 60 times by the time they turn 18,” says El-Ashmawy. “Most ‘marriages’ last for just a couple of days or weeks.”

    The deals are hatched in El Hawamdia’s myriad “marriage broker” offices, identifiable by the conspicuous presence of air-conditioners in a ramshackle town with intermittent power.

    The brokers, usually second-rate lawyers, also offer a delivery service. Village girls as young as 11 are brought to the Arab tourists’ hotel or rented flat for selection. Arab men travelling with their wives and children often arrange a separate flat for such purposes.

    The temporary marriages offer a way to circumvent Islamic restrictions on pre-marital sex.

    “Many hotels and landlords in Egypt will not rent a room to unmarried couples,” explains Mohamed Fahmy, a Cairo real estate agent. “A marriage certificate, even a flimsy one, allows visiting men to have sexual liaisons.”

    Engaging in sexual relations with minors is illegal in Egypt. Brokers can help with that too, forging birth certificates or substituting the identity card of the girl’s older sister.

    A one-day mut’a or “pleasure” marriage can be arranged for as little as 800 Egyptian pounds (115 dollars). The money is split between the broker and the girl’s parents.

    A summer-long misyar or “visitor” marriage runs from 20,000 Egyptian pounds (2,800 dollars) to 70,000 Egyptian pounds (10,000 dollars). The legally non-binding contract terminates when the man returns to his country.

    The “dowry” that Gulf Arab men are prepared to pay for sex with young girls is a powerful magnet for impoverished Egyptian families in a country where a quarter of the population subsists on less than two dollars a day.

    A NCCM-commissioned survey of 2,000 families in three towns near Cairo – El Hawamdia, Abu Nomros and Badrashein – found that the hefty sums paid by Arab tourists was the main motive for the high rate of “summer marriages” in these towns.

    Some 75 percent of the respondents knew girls involved in the trade, and most believed the number of marriages was increasing.

    The 2009 survey indicated that 81 percent of the “spouses” were from Saudi Arabia, 10 percent from the United Arab Emirates, and four percent from Kuwait.

    The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) too has been studying these “marriages”. “The family takes the money, and the foreign ‘husband’ usually leaves the girl after two or three weeks,” says Sandy Shinouda, a Cairo-based official at the IOM’s Counter-Trafficking Unit.

    “The unregistered marriages are not recognised by the state and afford no rights to the girl, or any children that result from these unions.”

    Shinouda, who formerly ran a shelter for victims of the trade, says most of the young girls come from large families that see marriage to an older, wealthier foreigner as a way to escape grinding poverty.

    “The girl may have 10 siblings, so the family considers her as a commodity,” she says.

    Parents may seek a broker to arrange a marriage once their daughter reaches puberty. In about a third of cases the girl is pressured into accepting the arrangement, the NCCM study found.

    This can have a profound psychological impact on the girl’s mental health, says Shinouda.

    “The girls know their families have exploited them…they can understand that their parents sold them,” she says. “Reintegration is a big challenge because in many cases if you return the girls to their family the parents will sell them again.”

    Egypt’s 2008 Child Law criminalises marriages to girls who have not reached the legal age of 18. Another law prohibits marriages to foreigners where the age difference exceeds 25 years.

    But the laws are poorly enforced, concedes NCCM’s El-Ashmawy. Anecdotal evidence suggests the trade has grown since Egypt’s 2011 revolution as a result of worsening economic conditions and an ineffectual police force.

    “It’s not simply about poverty or religion,” she asserts. “It’s cultural norms that support this illicit trade – people believe it is in the best interest of the girls and the families at large. And brokers succeeded in finding common ground with families in order to exploit young girls.”

    http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/08/under...ummer-rentals/


    comments:

    Muta marriage is not "pleasure" marriage, and Misyar marriage is not "visitor" marriage.

    Mut'ah marriage means marrying for a set time limit agreed upon by both parties, for a specified mahr (dowry), after which the marriage contract is annulled upon expiry of that time period - this is a haraam marriage contract which is not valid at all.

    Misyaar marriage is where a man does a shar'i marriage contract with a woman, meeting the conditions of marriage, but the woman gives up some of her rights such as accommodation, maintenance or the husband's staying overnight with her.

  6. #6
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    Women in Tunisia Tell of Decades of Police Cruelty, Violence and Rape


    TUNIS — She was just 21 when she was arrested by Tunisia’s state police, who hauled her into an Interior Ministry office and “beat me up so hard that I don’t even remember how I found myself there.” But that was not the worst part.

    Hamida Ajengui said she was stripped, and hung upside down by a dozen police officers who hurled abuse at her and threatened her with rape.

    “I was a girl,” Ms. Ajengui, now 46, said in an interview. “I was raised in a certain environment where it is ethical to be a moral, respectable, polite person. Then all of a sudden I was taken to this place where they strip you — they took all my clothes off — they leave you completely naked.”

    Tunisia has embarked on a bold and painful experiment, gathering testimony from victims of six decades of abuses under two dictatorships before its revolution four years ago led to a still-fledgling democracy. Already, thousands have arrived to lodge complaints at the country’s Truth and Dignity Commission, which is scheduled to begin public hearings in June with the goal of exposing the violations, making reparations and holding the abusers accountable in a search for national reconciliation.

    Just a few months into the process, 12,000 victims have come forward, most of them men. But what has surprised even longtime human rights activists is the number of women starting to tell stories of extreme cruelty, sexual violence and rape.

    By far the most difficult and traumatic cases, commission workers say, are accounts like Ms. Ajengui’s, because women are seen to embody family honor in this conservative society.

    Women were tortured as brutally as men were. But they suffered an added stigma — that of rape and sexual assault
    . Such abuse was used as a systematic and institutionalized form of torture, often directed at women for no reason other than that they were married or related to a member of the opposition.

    Others were themselves activists — leftists, nationalists, unionists, Islamists or students — who were arrested alongside their male colleagues. Ms. Ajengui’s offense was that she was raising money to help support prisoners’ families.

    Prisoners, men and women, found themselves not only ostracized, but also blocked from jobs and education
    , and made to sign in at a police station two or three times a day. “It was like a punishment to your whole life,” Ms. Ajengui said.

    After waterboarding, electrocution, beatings and rape with wooden sticks and police batons, the women suffered miscarriages and lasting internal injuries that have left them psychologically scarred
    . Some still live in thrall to their torturers, whom they see in their neighborhoods. During interviews with a half-dozen women who were tortured, none could relate what happened without weeping.

    “We had this paradox,” said Sihem Bensedrine, a former journalist and human rights activist who leads the Truth and Dignity Commission. Both dictatorships — under Habib Bourguiba and then Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali — vaunted policies that led the Arab world in advancing women’s rights, she noted.

    “Ben Ali did a lot of ‘feminization,’ ” Ms. Bensedrine said. “But there were massive violations against women, especially rape, more than we thought.”

    Women were raped in their own homes or neighborhood police stations while their husbands were in prison
    , she said. “It was not only to gain information but to dissuade them from opposing: ‘I will hurt you and break you, so you do not even try,’” was how Ms. Bensedrine described it.

    Ms. Ajengui said she was hung in the notorious “roast chicken” position — trussed and suspended naked from an iron bar — for 16 hours as the police threatened to violate her with their batons. “They would touch your breasts,” she recalled. “They would touch you everywhere.”

    Hours later, she was dragged bleeding and unconscious to a cell, and late in the night a police officer assaulted her and threatened her with rape unless she revealed more information. “I felt it was over for me, I was broken, but at that moment I thought I was going to lose my honor forever,” she said, breaking into tears.

    She survived and married a fellow activist — who was also imprisoned and tortured — and had four children.

    Not all women were so resilient. One of the most important cases before the commission concerns a woman who remains a serious psychiatric casualty 24 years after her torture and today lives in almost complete isolation.

    The woman, a mother of four and the wife of an Islamist activist who himself spent 16 years in prison, was tortured and raped with a wooden stick during one long night of interrogation after her husband’s arrest in 1991.

    She received such serious internal injuries that she was admitted to a hospital and had an emergency operation to remove her ovaries. She suffered a mental breakdown from which she has never recovered and continues to be treated at a psychiatric hospital in Tunis.

    “She was beaten so hard when I was in jail,” her husband explained, asking that their names not be published because of the family’s continuing trauma.

    “Her physical incapacity is rated 70 percent,” he said, noting that she suffers severe headaches and problems with her eyes. “She could spend the whole week in the house without talking to anyone.”

    His family has been destroyed by the strain. His brothers fled the country, and his children became estranged.

    Their 6-year-old grandchild is troubled too, he said. “He loves his grandmother, but he is asking: ‘Why are you mad, why are you crying?’ ”

    Despite the pervasiveness of such brutality under the dictatorships, and Tunisian women’s history of activism that stretches from early in the 20th century, many of these women’s experiences went largely undocumented, said Ibtihel Abdellatif, who wrote a master’s thesis on women’s activism in Tunisia.

    She set up the Tunisian Women’s Association to collect such women’s testimonies. “We could not find any institution that had enough knowledge of this,” Ms. Abdellatif said. “It is a taboo topic that no one worked on.”

    Hundreds of women were detained and interrogated without formal process, and so lack documentary proof of their experiences. Others were terrified into silence by the police, who warned them not to go to the news media or human rights organizations.

    The women also feared censure in the community. Many of the victims came from deeply religious Islamist families and so were particularly sensitive to the sexual nature of much of the abuse.

    “When a woman is imprisoned in an Arab country,”
    Ms. Abdellatif said, “it will just destroy her life because when she leaves, she will be in a bigger prison, rejected by society.”

    The deep divide between secularists and Islamists in Tunisia also prevented open discussion of the problem.

    The main women’s groups, which are secular in outlook, did little to investigate the abuses committed against Islamist women during the Ben Ali era. Now the commissioner for women at the Truth and Dignity Commission, Ms. Abdellatif crisscrosses the country encouraging women to come forward. Those women who wish, and whom psychologists deem strong enough, will take part in public hearings — some have already spoken at forums and to the news media.

    Few are prepared at this stage to sit across from their torturers, and commissioners say that the process will be rather to hear the victims and honor them. But the women interviewed said they wanted official recognition of wrongs done, of careers thwarted and families damaged.

    “There is a great fear of the perpetrators,” said Meherzia Belabed, who was a 35-year-old mother of three when she was first arrested in a roundup of opposition activists in 1991. “We know they are back in their jobs but also that they have been promoted. What happened could happen again.”

    During her interrogation, she told the police she was three months pregnant, but was punched expressly in the stomach and within hours suffered a miscarriage. Her 2-year-old son sat the whole day in the room next door listening to her screams until his father came to take him home. Afterward, Ms. Belabed said, “My family did not talk to me, nor did neighbors, everyone was scared.” After repeated raids and detentions, her husband divorced her.

    The police used shame as a weapon, forcing prisoners to watch others being tortured and taunting female detainees
    , saying that no one would marry them and that the shame would follow them to their graves, said one woman who was interviewed. Many described life after prison as even worse than the torture.

    “Prison is not four walls,” said Fatma Akaichi, who was in her 20s and training to be a teacher when she was arrested for her participation in a students’ union in 1995.

    “Outside, people did not have any mercy,” she said. “People would call you names, especially for a woman there was a lot of shame.”

    That torment has not fully ended. Even after the revolution, and the creation by law of the Truth and Dignity Commission, victims have been accused of telling their stories to gain financial compensation. “We are being mocked,” Ms. Akaichi said, noting that the news media belittled the crimes committed.

    “I don’t say former political prisoner,” Ms. Akaichi said of her experience. “I say I am a political prisoner, because the injustice continues today.”

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/05/2...e.html?referer

    comments:

    The "feminizaton" that Ben Ali did was to secularize the women, to ban the hijab and take away things related to Islam. These secularized feminists are the ones who did nothing to help these practicing Muslim women, but they waved the flag of women's oppression for having to wear the hijab.

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    Saudi deports 40k Pakistani workers amid troubled economy

    Feb 14, 2017

    Saudi Arabia has expelled nearly 40,000 Pakistani migrant workers over the past four months amid widespread international criticism of the Riyadh regime's mistreatment of foreign workers in the kingdom.

    Local media recently cited unnamed Interior Ministry officials as saying that more than 39,000 people have been deported from Saudi Arabia since October 2016 over visa violations, security concerns and crimes.

    According to a report by the Saudi Gazette, an unknown number of those deported were suspected of having links to terror groups, including Daesh.

    The news comes as Saudi Arabia has been hit by a year of strikes and protests over unpaid wages as the plunge in global oil prices and the kingdom's multi-billion-dollar military campaign in Yemen have struck a direct blow to the country's economy.

    Millions of poor Asians are working in the Persian Gulf states. Human rights groups say many of the workers suffer exploitation and abuses, including non-payment of wages.

    A court in Mecca in January sentenced dozens of foreign construction workers to lashes and jail for a protest held several months ago over unpaid wages.

    Foreigners account for nearly 30 percent of Saudi Arabia's 27-million-strong population, according to 2010 census figures.

    Official statistics in Saudi Arabia indicate that 243,000 Pakistanis had been expelled between 2012-2015.

    According to a 2014 report by the European University Institute, there are around 900,000 Pakistani nationals currently working in the kingdom's low-paid jobs, particularly the construction industry.

    Human Rights Watch and other rights organizations had slammed mass deportations of migrant workers, which are fairly common in the kingdom, saying they often involve physical abuse and detention in poor conditions.

    source1: http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02...istani-workers
    source2: http://parstoday.com/en/news/middle_...oubled_economy

    comments:

    Western Islamophobic media outlets are reporting it as "Saudi deports 40,000 Muslims". This is how they are spreading propaganda to support their hatred of Islam/Muslims and their wanting to deport Muslims. Saudi didn't deport them because they were Muslims but because their economy is failing and their own employers are not giving wages which led to strikes. Whereas the western countries want to deport or ban Muslims solely because they are Muslims.

    If one were to play this same media game then we can say that USA wants to deport 11 million Christians to Mexico.

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    Saudi Arabia Agrees to Let Women Drive

    September 27, 2017

    Saudi Arabia is easing restrictions on women driving, finally allowing almost half its population to get behind the wheel.

    A royal decree has been issued that will allow women in the country to drive, the Saudi foreign ministry said on Tuesday on its official Twitter account. A committee has been formed to implement the ruling and it will present recommendations within 30 days. Then the government will have until June 24, 2018, to implement the new decree.

    The move to ease restrictions on women has huge implications for the Saudi economy and women’s ability to work. It is just the latest in a series of changes that have been rippling through Saudi Arabia since the rise of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    Campaigners had earlier, for many years, argued that women should be allowed to drive, saying that “it makes virtual prisoners out of women, who do not have a male family member or chauffeur to drive them around.”

    http://www.rediff.com/news/report/sa...e/20170927.htm

    Saudi Companies and Families Plan to Hire Expat Female Drivers

    by GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN - 1 October 2017

    Car rental companies, businesses and Saudi families are looking to hire female drivers from overseas in the wake of King Salman’s decree last week allowing women to drive.

    “The hiring of women expatriate drivers, if the regulatory provisions of the government allow, will go a long way in improving public transport and the conveyance of women and children,” said Alam Razak, an agent with Arafat Recruitment in Jeddah.

    “The recruitment agencies and business houses are waiting for the new regulations, which are to be released within a few months.”

    But in general, he said, “permission for women to drive will cut reliance on foreign drivers in Saudi Arabia, whose number currently exceeds 1.3 million.”

    Abdullah Elias, co-founder and chief executive of the car-booking app Careem, said he expected business to flourish. “The decision will not affect major rent-a-car companies or international companies like Careem,” he said. Careem is reported to be planning to hire 100,000 female staff to capture a new market segment in the Kingdom.

    “Another good aspect of it is that now perhaps expert women drivers from abroad can also be hired for families to pick up and drop off girls at schools and universities,” the prominent Islamic scholar and social worker Hussain Zulkarnain said.

    “Far better than male ones, as these ladies can live inside the house and also help in household chores without the need to hire separate maids.” Many Saudi families will hire female drivers from abroad, especially from traditional labor-exporting countries, he said.

    Nora Al-Hamdan, a Saudi businesswoman, said the environment would soon become female-friendly, once women started driving. “While there is a long way to go, improvements are being made every day,” she said.

    Madiha Shunan, a Pakistani teacher, predicted safer roads. “It is important to note that women are better drivers than men, which has been proved by many surveys,” she said.

    http://www.arabnews.com/node/1170351/saudi-arabia


    comments:

    These campaigners lie and lied to say that they are virtual prisoners for not having a family member or a chauffeur to drive them around. Those who can afford a car can afford a driver ($15/mo).

    The driving ban didn't hold Saudi women back; first they had expat male drivers and now they'll have expat female drivers. The driving ban was just an excuse for feminists and Islampohobes to cry about something.

    Otherwise, this is what they really think about the freedom of the Muslim women:

    Muslim Women forced to remove the veil on day one of Austrian burqa ban
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/austrian-...181704392.html

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    USA and Saudi Changing Islam

    US Secretary of State Tillerson:

    "We opened a joint office in Riyadh to purify religious books of 'extremism' by producing new books to be taught in Saudi Arabia, distributed worldwide, and all textbooks currently being studied and distributed.Young imams of mosques will be prepared under the direct control of White House officials."

    video: https://www.facebook.com/doamuslims/...7159536664941/

    Saudi authorities arrested Sheikh Salih al-Munnajid (IslamQA)


    https://www.facebook.com/doamuslims/photos/a.713519395362297.1073741829.712954072085496/1568308023216759


    Saudi Authorities Arrest More Scholars

    Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested the following scholars/du'at in the past week...

    - Sheikh Nayef al-Sahafi
    - Sheikh Rashid al-Shahry
    - Sheikh Hamoud bin Ali al-Omari
    - Dr Muhammad al-Burak
    - Awayd al-Atawi
    - Dr Salim al-Deeni
    - Ahmad al-Suwayan



    https://www.facebook.com/doamuslims/photos/a.713519395362297.1073741829.712954072085496/1566424176738477

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    Saudi channel begins airing Umm Kalthoum music concerts

    3 October 2017

    The Saudi Cultural Channel, Al-Thakafiyah TV, began airing music concerts at midnight.

    The channel said on its official Twitter page that it will air music concerts for renowned Egyptian singer Umm Kalthoum for the first time in 30 years.

    In another Twitter post, it included an online link for those who want to watch the concert online.

    Meanwhile, Saudi singer Abdul Majeed Abdullah said families will be able to attend his next concert in Jeddah.

    Abdullah said on Saturday on Twitter that his next concert in Jeddah will be attended by families like concerts in Dubai and Kuwait.

    “Our precious kingdom has entered a new era that will bring us all good things. Better things are yet to come,” he added.

    https://english.alarabiya.net/en/lif...concerts-.html

    comments:

    A new era of cinemas, music concerts, and bikini beaches is going to bring them good things?!
    "…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know."
    (Quran 2:216)

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    Tunisian Women Can Now Marry Outside Muslim Faith and Get Equal Inheritance Rights

    by Loubna Khalkhali - 09/20/2017

    The Tunisian Parliament has abolished a decades-old ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, despite widespread resistance from inside and outside the Muslim country.

    Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi has announced the reform on August 13, during National Women’s Day, arguing that existing practice violates Tunisia’s constitution, adopted in 2014 in the wake of the Arab Spring revolution.

    “The state is obliged to achieve full equality between women and men and to ensure equal opportunities for all responsibilities. (…) The marriage law was an obstacle which did not allow for freedom in choosing a spouse”, he said.

    The law has gone into effect on September 16. Up until now a Muslim woman was not allowed to marry a non-Muslim. When she wished to marry a non-Muslim, he had to convert to Islam and display a certificate of his conversion to the authorities.

    Concerning inheritance, Shari’a law gives generally Muslim-women half of what it gives to Muslim-men, while making men financially responsible for women. However, the definite circumstances and the degree of kinship also play a role.

    The office of the official mufti of Tunisia backed the president’s proposal. But the words of the president have been condemned by governments from other parts of the Arab world. Mainstream Muslim scholars almost universally see the inheritance rules as enshrined in the Quran and consider the rules on marriage to be equally unquestionable in Shari’a law.

    ”These proposals are against divine law, Islamic precepts and the teachings of the Prophet (…) What is happening in Tunisia now is against Quranic texts, where the issue of inheritance is clear. Transgressing these texts is an offence to Islam and we will not accept this,” said Abbas Shuman, deputy of Al-Azhar in Cairo, one of the highest religious authorities in Sunni Islam.

    Regarding inter-faith unions, he commented: “Such a marriage would obstruct the stability of marriage.”

    The daily life of many Tunisian women is still one of abuse and harassment.

    In July 2017, Tunisian parliament introduced a new law that makes it easier to prosecute domestic violence. The law imposes also penalties for sexual harassment, which is a big step to protect women from abuse. Furthermore, the Tunisian government has abolished a clause that allowed rapists to escape any punishment if they married their victims.

    http://mvslim.com/tunisian-women-can...itance-rights/

    comments:

    Tunisia has gone astray more than other "Muslim" countries, even their hypocrite Mufti has gone against Islam. This is what feminists want in Saudi by removing the "guardianship" system, and this is what the previous tyrant (Ben Ali) was doing by bringing "feminization" to the country.

    Any Muslim women who marries a non-Muslim man will be living a life of fornication since their marriage is invalid in Islam.

    “And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikoon till they believe (in Allah Alone) and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater, etc.), even though he pleases you. Those (Al-Mushrikoon) invite you to the Fire, but Allah invites (you) to Paradise and Forgiveness by His Leave, and makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to mankind that they may remember” [Quran 2:221].

    “…then if you ascertain that they are true believers, send them not back to the disbelievers, they are not lawful (wives) for the disbelievers nor are the disbelievers lawful (husbands) for them”
    [Quran 60:10].

    They go against the commands of Allah, and then they wonder why their countries are destroyed and they're humiliated by their enemies when the punishment of Allah comes.

  12. #12
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    Indian Child Brides Sold in 'Package Deals' to Men from Gulf States

    Wealthy men "marry" the girls for the duration of their stay as a form of sex tourism.

    HYDERABAD, India, Oct 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For years, Haji Khan - a lanky man in his thirties - moved inconspicuously in the bylanes of Hyderabad's Old City, scouring the streets for child brides for older men visiting from Gulf states, pocketing about 10,000 rupees ($150) for each girl.

    Khan struck two kinds of deals: 'Pucca' meant long-term marriages where the girl would fly back with her husband to his home country, and 'time pass' marriages that lasted for the duration of the man's stay in India.

    "We lined up 20 to 30 girls for each Arab in a hotel and he would select one. They (the men) gave the rejected girls 200 rupees ($3) to go back home," said Khan, now a police informer.

    "The men came with old, used bridal clothes, soaps and nightgowns for the girl they would marry. Most marriages were 'time pass'," Khan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Police in the southern Indian city, a hub for tech companies, last month busted a racket involving wealthy men from Gulf states such as Oman and Dubai "marrying" teenage Muslim girls in Hyderabad for the duration of their stay in India.

    At the time of the marriage, the men signed post-dated divorce documents, to be delivered to the brides after their new husbands had left the country.

    The marriages were performed by a Muslim officiant, or qazi, who forged the bride's age to show her as an adult. The main qazi who performed these marriages in Hyderabad was arrested last month.

    "Most of the girls do not know that they will be abandoned within 15 or 20 days of the marriage. The men would come on tourist visas, perform a contract marriage and leave after a month," said V. Satyanarayana, a deputy commissioner of police in Hyderabad who is investigating the issue.

    SERVITUDE

    In the few cases when the young brides did accompany their husbands back to their home country, they were forced into domestic servitude or sexual slavery, police said.

    About 30 people including brokers, qazis, prospective bridegrooms from Oman and Qatar and hotel owners were arrested last month and charged with human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, said police officials.

    In the crackdown, 14 girls, all under 18, were rescued before they had been married off. Nearly half the brokers arrested were women who had been victims of the crime themselves, police said.

    "Contract marriages in this part of Hyderabad have been going on for many years, but it has now become an organised, international trade (of girls), involving agents and qazis from different Indian cities and also the Gulf," Satyanarayana said.

    Girls are easy to source and most marriages are performed after the festival of Eid which agents said is "season time" when tourists from the Gulf visit Hyderabad - which has links to Gulf Arab states dating back centuries.

    In the 19th century men from what is now Saudi Arabia and Oman were recruited as soldiers by the Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad - then a princely state in southern India.

    Their descendents continue to live in the city and older generations recall "good marriages" of Hyderabadi girls to young Arab men visiting relatives in the city in the 1970s and 80s.

    The trend turned into a business in recent years after a qazi was sanctioned by the government to perform "Arab marriages".

    "They think they will see the Burj Khalifa (Dubai's landmark skyscraper) and live in palatial homes like Atlantis (hotel) if they marry an Arab. They are ignorant of the consequences," Satyanarayana said.

    https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/con...en-gulf-states


 

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