If a person chooses to engage in pedophilia but wants to get the family’s blessing and make it right in the eyes of Islamic law, apparently, one should invent/ tweak a customary religious practice so you can take advantage of a “one-month wife.” You might wonder, why even bother with religion if you’re working that hard to make your dirty shit look clean. But what you’re overlooking is, these devout believers are taking advantage of one of the best parts of religion- it has so many traditions and customs. This is why it’s such a great place to masquerade something like a sex crime. You can hide behind the candles, incense and fine draperies, you can distort a clear view of it with stained-glass. But darker than such abuses and obstructions of justice by religion, or in this case, the twisted specifics of fundamental Islamic law, the agent to blame for the sexual abuse of “one-month marriages” is something far older and stronger, Poverty.
In our world, Poverty places an extra weight and dangerous burden on the heads of young girls. Pushed by their families, expected to earn money, girls and women are often forced to provide soul-deadening service to globe-trotting sex tourists. Shoved to the brink by moribund local economies, impoverished families far too often must consider their children as something to trade to secure survival. It’s a painful question to wonder what survives from that trade. But the choice is made.
In this particular instance it happened in India. The victim is a 12-year old girl. And the reason you’re reading her name and not a number or a statistic is, she’s one tough-minded and brave 12-year old girl. Her name is Nausheen Tobassum. She lives in Hyderabad, located in southern India. Defying everything and everyone around her, she escaped her one-room family home. You see, she had to flee, to avoid having sex with a foreign man she’d been married to, against her will, the day before.
Her aunt arranged for her to marry a Sudanese man older than Nausheen’s father. Her “groom” was already married, a father of two, and he’d come to India after hearing from his friend about how he’d just enjoyed a “40-day marriage.” To arrange the ceremony the “groom” paid 100,000 rupees, about the equivalent of £1,200 pounds, or $1,830 dollars.
The parents received the bulk of the profit, 70,000 rupees. The aunt who set it up got 20,000 rupees. This poor girl, literally and figuratively, got nothing. If you were curious, 20,000 rupees, at today’s conversion rate, is: $370.48
Which means, a 12-year old girl was pimped out by her aunt for $370.48 cents.
That’s the price of poverty. And it’s why sex tourism is so rampant. A married guy takes a long vacation and for less than two grand he secures the sexual services of an under-aged girl who has to be his “wife” for a month. Two thousand dollars would get you a pretty epic weekend in Vegas. For the same money, this particular married man opted for a month with a young sex slave in Hyderabad, India. That’s how he wanted to spend his vacation.
These “one-month marriages” are performed/blessed by local government-appointed Muslim priests called Qazi. For a fee, they’ll gladly marry any foreign Muslim man to a local Muslim girl. In Nausheen’s marriage, the Qazi earned 5,000 rupees, or $92.62 to do his part.
The reason for the “one-month marriage” is that under Islamic law prostitution is forbidden. So the way to get around Allah is to broker a deal with her family and get “married.” Wink wink. It doesn’t matter that everyone is fully aware it’s a temporary arrangement.
Apparently, the thinking is… God’s prostitution clock gets reset every day like some daily rate at a cheap motel; and if you have some shady, government-appointed priest say some words, maybe have some cake, maybe not, and then give the money to her family and not directly to the girl, then have sex with her for at least a month, or perhaps the more religiously significant 40-days, that’s enough to confuse Allah into thinking it couldn’t be prostitution because there was a “wedding.” It seems they feel there’s little hope for the Almighty and All-Knowing to follow such theologically evasive maneuvers.
When a person uses a twisted rationalization like a “one-month marriage” to engage in sex tourism with underage girls, or some similar scam to abuse little boys, everything they’re doing is so far from the original intent of their religion and its central message of Love it boggles the mind at the sheer absurdity of humanity. How quick we are to cover-up our bad behavior and guilty feelings with the warm fuzzy blanket of organized religion. It’s an absolutely ridiculous sickness of rationalizations and justifications. And it’s so damn damaging. I hate that it’s one of the things religion is best at, lending respectability and cover to bad behavior.
You might not think after centuries of documented and systemic abuses by various organized religions, such institutions would still hold the same power, but people really go for religion. That holy stamp, the imprimatur of the church, or the synagogue, or the mosque, or the temple, it’s some strong shit. Beneath its holy seal, predators use its traditions and customs against the believers, and collectively, all those abuses of holy power are slowly consuming everything worthwhile about the religions, constantly eating away at them like unseen termites, until eventually, as undeniable as the faiths that founded them, all that will be left standing will be their hollowed structures.
The damage is already deep. How long will it be before you can hear the words Catholic Church and not expect, or imagine, the words sex scandal, or molestation, or court settlement to closely follow?
And I know well how it saddens the hearts of Muslims around the world, whenever they hear their religion is being perverted into a tool and used as a way to systemically harm children. Which is why, one must look past the practitioners, and past the religions, since they are only tools in the hand of a stronger force. The hand clutching the tool is Poverty.
Far more important that the fact Nausheen’s parents are Muslims, it’s the fact they live in poverty that pushes her family to pimp out their under-aged daughter. Islam just makes it okay for the family to take the money. It’s the undying and desperate need for the money that makes them consider the choice. It’s Poverty not Islam that perverts the situation.
After she escaped her family, her “groom” and her “one-month marriage,” Nausheen ran through the streets of her hometown, until eventually she found a police patrol. She told them what her family and the local Qazi had conspired to do. Since it is illegal under Indian law for a girl to be married before she turns 18, the police visited Nausheen’s home. They arrested the “groom,” her aunt and the Qazi official. Her parents escaped and are somewhere in hiding. A warrant was issued for their arrest.
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.
Stories like Nausheen Tobassum’s are rare. Not because of what happened but rather because of how she reacted. Her bravery, and her rejection of parental pressure and the cultural traditions used against her and her fears of God and holy punishments, defiance like hers, it’s heroic in the grandest sense. Somehow, despite all of that crushing weight on the head of a 12-year old girl, she broke free. And now, her story brings attention to all the children who are unable to break free.
You’ll notice the last thing she says is, “I am scared.” That’s the whole point. That’s why she acted. She had to defend herself. And when she succeeded she became a reminder of all those who are abused and denied freedom from such fear.
Religions were invented as a way to help ease our fears, to understand our universe, to love our neighbors as ourselves. They are not a way to make sick shit palatable. But it’s important we remember not to blame religion for Nausheen’s sad story. Nor should we think her parents, or the Qazi, or even the foreign sex tourist, are the ones to blame either. They’re all benefitting from a situation, or trying to profit from it. It’s a toxic environment. The economic conditions are to blame. Poverty creates this sad story.
There may be wickedness in the hearts of humanity. And there may be spiritual leaders and predators willing to take advantage of this weakness in our breast. But just as burglars rarely rob anyone in broad daylight, Poverty darkens the world enough that criminals can take advantage of their unfortunate victims. Poverty creates and increases opportunities for predators. Sad stories like Nausheen’s help us shed light on what happens in the dark.
Pity the victims. Hate the sins. But blame Poverty.