Police in Pakistan dramatically rescued a 10-year-old girl who was being forced to marry a 50-year-old man so the girl’s mother could pay off a £3,400 loan.
Pathani Mangrio’s parents accepted £5,400 from 50-year-old Jeetmal Mehar in exchange for their daughter so they could pay off a loan they had accumulated but could not pay off due to health reasons.
But officers dramatically raided the property the marriage was due to take place moments before the marriage contract was signed.
The 50-year-old groom managed to escape and is currently on the run after fleeing but 11 people, including the girl’s parents, were arrested at the scene.
Gulzar Mari, a policeman investigating the case, said: ‘On December 19, around 11am we received information that a minor girl was being married to a 50-year-old man.
‘We took immediate action and raided the house of Muhammad Mehar. He was the broker in this marriage and had taken £340 from the groom and £170 from bride’s family.’
The bride’s mother Masmat Nabiat said that she had agreed to marry her daughter off as the family had to pay a loan of around £3,400.
She said: ‘My husband was ill and for his treatment we had taken loan from some influential people.
‘My husband is unable to stand on his feet and can’t walk that is why he was not present at the Nikah ceremony of our daughter.
‘Due to financial constraints we couldn’t pay back the loan. The people we had taken money from were pressuring us that they will recover their loan amount by selling our house.
‘Muhammad Mehar contacted us through some sources and offered £5,400 if we will marry our daughter to Jeetmal Mehar.
‘Neither I nor my husband wanted to do this injustice to our daughter but we had no choice. The groom also said he will not demand any dowry and he will bear all the expenses of marriage.’
Qazi Haji Solangi, who performed the marriage said: ‘I was approached by Muhammad Mehar for reciting Nikah. I didn’t know the girl is only 10 years old as I didn’t ask for age of bride and groom.
‘I just asked the names of the bride, groom and their parents name and recited Nikah.’
The case was registered under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act by Sindh police, who also produced all those arrested before a court on Wednesday.
The court ordered that 10-year-old Pathani Mangrio be sent to live with her grandfather while the investigation was completed.
Under law, child marriage is a punishable offence in Pakistan with a minimum sentence of two years.
According to a UNICEF estimate, three percent of girls in Pakistan are married before they turn 15 and 21 per cent before age 18.