The sex trade involving rich old Arabs and minors from poor families in Hyderabad was a flourishing racket in the 80s. Every week a horror story of sexual exploitation would emerge in the media, one more shocking than the other.
The families willingly married their young daughters to the rich Sheikhs in return for a fat sum. The streets of Hyderabad were filled with the rich old Arabs throwing money at any family willing to sell a bride.
Many families began trafficking their teenage daughters, in exchange for huge cash to Arab countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Dubai etc by performing sham marriages. Such nikahs were bliss for the families of poor girls since the local grooms demanded huge dowry, adding to their plight. But the Arabs paid them huge sums of money in return.
Due to increasing exploitation of the young girls, including minors, the network soon caught global attention. Several qazis, who performed these sham marriages, were put behind bars and minors were rescued from the trade. This was even followed by repeated meetings with govt-appointed qazis with the Wakf Board and the families of the brides.
Through rigorous campaigns and awareness programmes, the state managed to bring the trafficking of young girls under control. The old predators gradually shifted to other metros such as Mumbai where they have discovered a new network.
However, Mumbai is not ready to turn into a hub for a sex trade that involves the selling of minors like commodities.
The State must eradicate the menace before it spreads its base.