x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Man married underage woman in India, officials say

Emirati from Sharjah is accused of travelling to Hyderabad to wed an 16-year-old in a country where the legal marriage age is 18.

DUBAI // A man from the UAE and aged in his late 40s was arrested India this week and charged with marrying an underage girl, an official at the UAE consulate in India said today.

The unidentified 47-year-old Emirati, from Sharjah, was arrested by Hyderabad police on September 4. He is facing charges of marrying an underage woman. Police say she is 16; the legal marriage age in India is 21 for men and 18 for women.

The man, according to the consular official, was told by the bride's family that the woman was 22 years old.

Police in Hyderabad today confirmed the arrest, saying they arrived at the bride's house on Sunday after a tip-off from the community.

"The marriage had just taken place when we reached the house," said AS Mohammed Ismail, Assistant Commissioner of Police at Santosh Nagar police station in Hyderabad, where the Emirati man, the girl's parents and the priest who conducted the wedding are being held.

Mr Ismail said the family and her local identity card said she was 22.

"We sent her to the forensics department for an age determination test on Monday and it has been found that she is 16 years old," Mr Ismail said. He said the marriage of a minor in India was considered "null and void".

"The girl has been handed to her relatives," he said. "The Emirati will be produced to the concerned court after investigations."

He said the Emirati had denied the girl was underage.

"He paid the family 30,000 rupees (Dh2,300) for the marriage and had borne the wedding expenses," he said.

Mr Ismail said that "extreme poverty and illiteracy" had contributed to the situation.

The consular official said the UAE consul general is following up on the case with the Hyderabad police and providing all necessary consular assistance to the Emirati.

"We are closely following the case," he said.