"The Arabs prefer teenage, virgin brides," says Jameela Nishat, who counsels and sensitises young women against the malaise. Two of her volunteers, Shahida Yasmeen and Tasneem Sultana, in their early twenties experienced the trauma of being scanned by an old Arab. A few months ago, they accompanied an undercover television reporter who was following these sham marriages. They reached a home where half a dozen other prospective brides were gathered. "It resembled a brothel. The girls were paraded before the Arab who would lift the girls’ burqa, run his fingers through their hair, gaze at their figures and converse through an interpreter," says Yasmeen recalling the day.
Most girls inspected by the Arab were minors, and forced by a complex union of their parents and Islamic clerics to yield to the preliminary probes of the Arab.
Curiously, the high priests of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and the fatwa brigade of Darul Uloom Deoband, who are gearing up to defend the legality of Islamic Courts in the Supreme Court, seem to have shut their eyes to this phenomenon that is aided and abetted by Hyderabad's Qazis or clerics.
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