Hyderabad: The external affairs ministry is under fire from child rights activists after the Indian embassy in Oman stated that a minor girl from Hyderabad who was married to an elderly Oman national was happy with him.
The embassy in Muscat was responding to a report in this newspaper on June 1 regarding the failure of the Centre to secure her return.
The girl, aged about 16, was married to Omani national Ahmed Al Rahbi Ahmed Abdullah Amur in May last year and flown out of the country. The case came to light in August. The embassy said in a tweet: “Embassy had requested concerned Omani authorities for repatriation of (the minor girl; DC is withholding the name). They have informed that she has indicated in a written statement that she is happy with her husband and does not want to return to India and wished to continue staying with her husband in Oman.”
MBT leader Amjedullah Khan, who helped the family register a case then and took it up with MEA, said, “How can the external affairs ministry sit quietly when the girl who is minor says she is happy with her husband,” he asked. The law states that in case a minor is married, she should be rescued and shifted to a child home till she turns 18.
Child rights activist Achyuta Rao said the girl could be under pressure. “If the child is separated from the accused (husband) and counselled the reply could have been different. It is a forced opinion. As per law of land, her statement is invalid,” he said.
Mr Rao said that in several cases where they intervened to prevent child marriages, the minor girls had said they were happy. “When we counselled them in their comfort zone, they told that it was a forced marriage,” he said....