The issue has brought back the debates surrounding ‘Arabi kalyanam,’ a practice prevalent till about a decade back in Malabar.

The authorities of an orphanage here have denied the allegation that it forced a minor girl on its roll to get married to a UAE national.

At a press conference here on Thursday, P.T. Abdul Hameed, vice-chairman of the orphanage, said the young woman’s mother had been making baseless allegations against the organisation.

“The girl joined here when she was six. The orphanage took care of her studies all these years. A few moths ago, her mother approached us and said that she was not interested in continuing her daughter’s education as she is planning to get her married off. We did not have any financial interests in supporting this marriage. We are ready to close this institution if any evidence to that effect is produced,” he said.

He said the orphanage authorities had discouraged the family from going ahead with the marriage. But her mother said that this was an escape route for the family and requested the orphanage not to oppose the alliance. The orphanage’s premises were given for the marriage on a written request from the mother.

“The circular legalising marriage of Muslim women above 16 years was in force then. So there was no problem for registration. If the UAE national is found guilty of anything, he should be punished. The orphanage is ready to take care of the girl’s future needs,” he said.

The issue has brought back the debates surrounding ‘Arabi kalyanam,’ a practice prevalent till about a decade back in Malabar in which Arab citizens married women from economically poor families only to abandon them in a short period in most cases.

With the mushrooming of illegal orphanages, the safety of children residing in them has been a cause of concern. In 2013 alone, eight cases of sexual abuse were reported from private orphanages in the State as per the Board of Control of Orphanages and Other Charitable Homes.

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