//Girls saved from marriage in exchange for buffaloes

Girls saved from marriage in exchange for buffaloes

Web posted at: 6/15/2006 3:51:35
Source ::: AFP

karachi • A Pakistani court has barred the forced marriage of two girls into a rival family to compensate for a dispute over payment for three buffaloes, officials said yesterday.

The judge overturned a ruling by an illegal council of tribal elders in the rural southern town of Sheikarpur involving the girls aged six and eight, lawyer Paryal Mari of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said.

The traditional practice of vani, which involves giving away girls to be married at puberty in order to settle local feuds, has been outlawed by Pakistan but continues in remote areas.

The argument developed over money owed to local feudal lord Imdad Sithar for the buffalos which he earlier gave to a villager named Mohammad Ramzan.

“The jirga imposed a fine of Rs170,000 ($2,833) and asked Ramzan either to pay the amount or give his two daughters as compensation to Sithar,” Mari said.

The grandmother of the two girls, Rani Begum, resisted the decision and said she would not allow anyone to touch her granddaughters. “No one can taken my grandchildren from me,” she told reporters in Sheikarpur.

The judge also ordered a judicial inquiry into the tribal council, Mari said. “This is most inhuman to sell girls as compensation for buffalos and those responsible must be punished,” Anis Haroon, president of the Karachi-based Aurat (Woman) Foundation, said.

Separately authorities stopped the handover of five girls aged between two and five to another clan to settle a blood feud sparked by a double murder in 1997.

The children’s relatives allegedly murdered a woman and a man in a so-called “honour killing” nine years ago and the tribal council in the southern town of Jacobabad said the deal would settle the feud.

Sindh province Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim overturned the deal at the weekend, saying it was immoral, un-Islamic and illegal