Eight-year-old girl forced into marriage to settle dispute in Mansehra

Jirga decides Iqra Bibi will marry Ghulam Hussain who is her uncle’s father-in-law

Our Correspondent April 19, 2016
A file photo of a tribal jirga. PHOTO: AFP

MANSEHRA: An eight-year-old girl’s fate was decided by a jirga when it ordered her family to marry her off as vani to settle a dispute.

Police told The Express Tribune on Tuesday Mariyam Bibi married Ashfaq at a court 10 days ago. This resulted in a dispute between the families of the husband and the wife. Their families approached a jirga to find a solution.

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A few days ago, the jirga decided Ashfaq’s niece, eight-year-old Iqra Bibi will marry Mariyam Bibi’s father Ghulam Hussain. If using the child to negotiate the dispute was not sufficient, the jirga elders also asked Ashfaq to pay Rs500,000 in fines to solemnise marriage with Mariyam Bibi.

However, officials claimed the jirga’s decision was not implemented due to police interference.

A police official said, “A majority of jirga members opposed this decision.” He added, “The jirga finally agreed to visit Hussain’s house to convince him to forgive the couple and strike a compromise under local traditions.”

Mansehra DSP Muhammad Hafeez said, “Timely intervention by police foiled the vani attempt.” He pointed out, “Since the offense was not committed, I have sought advice from prosecutors to see if we could take legal action against the parties and jirga members.”

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However, officials informed The Express Tribune the jirga has decided to hand over the minor girl to Mariyam Bibi’s father as vani on April 20.

In a similar case in 2015, at least six members of a family were arrested for allegedly forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry a 40-year-old man under Swara in DI Khan. Allah Ditta Baloch’s son Ameerullah was abducted and the kidnappers threatened to kill Ameerullah if Baloch did not marry his 14-year-old daughter, Shehnaz Bibi, to 40-year-old Abdullah. Baloch was forced to give in to the kidnapper’s wishes to save his son’s life. However, police conducted an investigation and arrested Abdullah along with five of his relatives who were involved in the incident.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th,  2016.



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