Khan moves to court to marry 13-yr-old
-mother to oppose bid
Stabroek News
May 29, 2004

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City businessman Reeaz Khan yesterday moved to the High Court to obtain permission to marry the 13-year-old girl he allegedly abducted and then released.

Contacted yesterday, the child's mother Bibi Shameeza Hamid said she will fight the matter as her daughter, "is just a mere kid and he is a big man. I don't want my daughter marrying so young." The woman said that she was not surprised by Khan's move, "but I would not accept that and I would not sign to it."

Stabroek News understands that Khan's lawyer filed the proceedings in the Registry of the High Court and it is expected to come up before a judge on Monday.

Legal sources yesterday said that the motion would have been filed under the Marriage Act of the Laws of Guyana.

On May 20, Justice B.S. Roy had instructed Khan to release the teenager into the joint custody of her mother and maternal aunt and to avoid contacting her, after Hamid commenced habeas corpus proceedings through her attorney. But Hamid alleged that Khan abducted her daughter from her sister's home around 1 am the next day. She was returned to her mother at a private hospital early the next morning.

A legal source explained to Stabroek News yesterday if a child is under the age of 15 and wants to get married, even with his/her parents' consent, the child has to seek the assistance of the court and appear before a judge with his/her parents.

In the case of Khan, where the parent is strenuously objecting to the move, he would have to serve copies of the motion on the child's parents and the judge would then listen to arguments from both sides and make a decision.

Also, the child would have to be questioned to assess her state of mind, the legal source said.

Even if the parent does not consent to the marriage, the judge could look at the child's living standards, her schooling among other issues and grant the man permission to marry the child. "Remember the welfare of the child is paramount," the source stated.

Hamid told Stabroek News that an associate of Khan had approached her and requested that the matter be settled since the man was willing to make the child his wife. The mother said she vehemently refused the offer.

The woman has two other children: two boys, 19 and ten-years-old. The 13-year-old is her only daughter and the mother said she has much hope for the child.

She made a heart stirring plea for support in her quest to save her daughter from what she says would be a life of misery. "I am not thinking about my well-being. I am thinking about hers. I would never do that to my child. I know she would thank me when she gets older, I cannot allow this to happen to her," the woman said.

Her daughter is not left alone at any time. She disclosed that during the day a friend would visit the girl and they would look at television together.

The woman related that sometimes she sleeps in a hammock just to keep watch over her daughter and would place empty bottles near the door to warn her in the event the child attempts to leave.

The woman said she is trying not to be angry with the child since she knows it would not help the situation and it would push her further away. Since the end of the Easter term the child has not returned to the secondary school she attended where she was in form three.

Hamid said her daughter had good grades and in all her reports her teachers would list her as being a "quiet and nice child." She said she never had any such problem with the child before she came into contact with Khan.

"We had a very good relationship. You ask anybody. We did everything together. We used to sleep together and all that. I know that I am poor but I was sending her to school and hoping that she would get a good education. I have so much hope for her.

"This is really hard for me. Sometimes it feels as if the world coming to a end."

Hamid in her affidavit to the court had alleged that Khan abducted the teenager from an institution she was placed in by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. She also claimed that the ministry's action had been taken without her consent.

The documents had also stated that she had consented to an offer by Khan to allow her child to participate in a `work-study' exercise at Khan's business establishment during the Easter vacation. However, on the first `work-study' exercise, the child failed to return home and when her mother visited the businessman he informed her that the child was in his charge and that he did not intend to let her go.

The matter will come up before Justice Roy again on June 4.