An investigation of an alleged child marriage has not found the 13-year-old victim to have been illegally married, the authorities said on Sunday in response to media reports about an extremist group with child brides.
The allegations came to light last Thursday after a 26-year-old man was stabbed in a dispute within an extremist group. Ismail Hammad from Maduvvari island was alleged to have been married out of court to a 13-year-old girl.
“Based on the information collected for the investigation of this matter so far, it hasn’t been found that the child in the case is connected in the name of marriage to anyone,” the police and ministry of gender, family and social services said in a joint statement.
Police intelligence learned of children in a family with extremist ideology being deprived of education and healthcare in July 2018, after which an investigation was carried out with the gender ministry. The authorities are working to provide security and protection to the children, it added.
According to media reports, the 13-year-old victim was also pregnant. The gender ministry said on Saturday that upon learning of a minor who was pregnant, procedures were immediately completed and complaints were lodged against the adult suspects.
The age of consent for marriage was raised to 18 years in a new child protection law ratified last week. In accordance with Islamic sharia, the family law previously allowed children under the age of 18 who have reached puberty to get married with a special permission from the family court and the Supreme Court.