Child Marriage Victim Tied To Chair Set On Fire

From Colombo-Telegraph:
Sri Lankan Muslim Child marriage victim, Thameem Fatheema Sharmila has died last night after being tied to a chair, poured oil and set on fire by her abusive husband last Friday.

Activist had been calling the husband to be arrested so he can face justice in courts.

“The police is yet to arrest the husband who is accused of burning a 4 months pregnant teenager alive. It is actually a double homicide.” a spokeswoman of Women’s Action Network today told Colombo Telegraph.

Sharmila a young 18 year old Muslim girl was four months pregnant and lost her baby. She is also the young mother of a 7-month old baby.

She is also a victim of forced child marriage, which is legal for Sri Lankan Muslims. She was 16 years old when was taken to the Nallanthaluwa Kodi Palli Mosque in Munthal, Puttalam and forced to marry Mohamed Imran who was 22 years old. Marrying against her will, Sharmila did not know that Imran was already married twice before and she was his third wife. She never received a marriage certificate as the nikah was not registered by the men officiating the marriage ceremony.

Writing to Colombo Telegraph yesterday, Shreen Abdul Saroor, founder member of Mannar Women’s Development Federation and Women’s Action Network said: “She faced serious physical abuse and psychological trauma after the marriage and had reached out to a colleague a month ago asking for information in obtaining a divorce via the Quazi courts, but never came back again. Later it was learnt that she also went to the police who mediated and reconciled she and her husband and sent her back to him, despite grave danger of further abuse.

“After the attempted murder of his wife, Mohamed Imran took away their 7 month-old baby threatening her that if she reported the incident as being his fault that he would harm the baby as well. Sharmila in her moments of waking consciousness was concerned only about her baby. Fortunately the baby is now safe with other family members but Mohamed Imran is on the run from the police.”

“It is unbearable to see the young lives of Sri Lankan Muslim women being destroyed because of the lack of legal protection of their rights. Sharmila was both a victim of her husband but also a victim of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) and the Constitution, which does not (yet) protect her rights. What did this child do to deserve this fate? Was it her fault that she was born Muslim in Sri Lanka?” Shreen questioned.

“This happened because of the flawed and inadequate laws in the country specially Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act and Domestic Violence Act, growing religious fundamentalism and structures like mosques and Quazi courts playing with women’s rights and of course negligence of the police. Let’s see what the court will do?”, Shreen Abdul Saroor told Colombo Telegraph.

Her funeral will be held today morning in Thillaiyady, Puttalam.

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