Defying odds: Pakistan's first female jirga to represent women in Swat

Published: July 16, 2013

In this photograph taken on June 20, 2013 women attend a jirga in Saidu Sharif, the twin town of Mingora, the largest city in Swat. PHOTO: AFP

MINGORA: “Previously, men would commit crime and women would unjustly pay but not anymore,” says head of the first female jirga, Tabassum Bashir. 

Set up in Swat, the female jirga is the first of its kind in the country but holds special significance in the region for it has seen an increasing number of terrorist attacks that have directly targeted women.

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Dissatisfied with not being able to voice their concerns at the jirga-level, a group of women led by Tabassum, decided to form the first female assembly to resolve local disputes.

“We don’t deal with criminal cases,” said Tabassum, adding that the female jirga has no intention of shunning the judiciary or the police.

Traditionally, jirgas have been a male dominated assembly which is convened to settle disputes between certain groups.

“If a man were to commit a crime, he’d pay the price by giving up his daughter or sister in exchange,” said Tabassum, claiming that a number of disputes were settled this way, through a custom called “Nanawatey”.

The female jirga which aims to train and plan events for women in the future, currently just sees itself safeguarding the rights of the local women.

“First of all, our survival is important. We will focus on other rights after we have been guaranteed the right to live,” said Tabassum.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • baryalay khan
    Jul 16, 2013 - 8:22PM

    i appreciate their struggle but sadly this jirga is as powerless as the UN ..

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  • Jul 16, 2013 - 9:36PM

    Excellent to try it.

    [16:59-60] “And when to one of them is conveyed the tidings of the birth of a female, his face darkens, while he suppresses his inward grief. He hides himself from the people because of the bad news he has had: ‘Shall he keep it in spite of disgrace or bury it in the dust?’ Verily, evil is that which they judge.”

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  • Asif
    Jul 16, 2013 - 10:32PM

    Isn’t Jirga system illegal in Pakistan? Shouldn’t CJ take suo moto against this illegal justice system?

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jul 16, 2013 - 11:34PM

    In Islam, two witnesses of women = one witness of man.

    What will happen if the male dominated Jirga will give its verdict that the judgement passed my female jirga is null and void.

    What will happen then?

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jul 17, 2013 - 3:37AM

    Any kind of Jirga is illegal and slap on the face of our judicial system.

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