A 12-year-old girl was given in marriage to an 85-year-old man in Chiniot on Friday.
According to eyewitnesses, tehsil Bhowana Adlana Japay resident Faiz sold his daughter Rani to his rival for five acres of land.
Eyewitnesses told police that Faiz had allegedly killed his cousin, the groom, Ahmed’s sister Anwar Bibi 8 years ago and a panchayat decided that he would give his daughter to settle the blood debt.
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After being released from jail last week Faiz wed Rani to his rival Ahmed, who said that he had also paid for the girl by giving land. Residents informed police chowki in- charge Mangwana Zafar Baant about the case but he initially said that it was not in his jurisdiction to arrest people accused of wani.
Faiz was arrested by the police and was booked under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) eight years ago and remained in jail during the trial of the case. However, with the intervention of elders of the area, a deal was struck between the relatives of deceased Anwar Bibi and Faiz’s family.
Anwar Bibi’s family said they would pardon Faiz in the presence of the relatives of both parties and elders of the area during if he gave the hand of his 12-year-old daughter Rani Bibi to Ahmad.
“Ahmed said that Faiz had taken his wife from him and therefore ‘owed him a wife’.
Then he agreed to take his daughter,” eyewitness Raheem Shah said.
Ahmad is 82-years-old and is a wealthy landlord owning more than 20 acres of land. “He was married thrice. His first wife died young and the second got a divorce. The third, Anwar Bibi, was murdered by Faiz,” Shah told reporters. “The deal also stipulated that 5 acres of land be given to Faiz for handing over his daughter and the property has been transferred,” he added.
The nikah of Ahmad and Rani Bibi was solemnised 3 months ago but the marriage ceremony as held on Friday and was attended by over 100 people.
When contacted, Langrana Station House Officer (SHO) Zafar Bhatti said that he had conducted a raid but found that no laws were broken. “I cannot arrest anyone here because the girl is an adult as per Islamic Law and Shariah. She is 12-years-old and that is not too young for marriage,” he said.
“I have submitted a report with the court in this regard and it is up the court to prosecute,” he added. “The marriage needs a wali and her father is her guardian. It was his choice to give her in marriage,” he said.
Age is not just a number
As per CRA section 2,.(a) “child” means a person who, if a male, is under eighteen years of age, and if a female, is under sixteen years of age;
(b) “Child marriage” means a marriage to which either of the contracting parties is a child;
(c) “Contracting party” to a marriage means either of the parties whose marriage is or is about to be thereby solemnized;
(d) “Minor” means person of either sex who is under eighteen years of age.
In this case girl was according to the parents is 12 years old, however the area SHO stated that she was an adult according to Shariah law.
According to Section 5 of the CRA, the punishment for solemnising a child marriage is as follows
“Whoever performs, conducts or directs any child marriage shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both, unless he proves that he had reason to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage.”
Similarly, Section 6 says that the “punishment for parent or guardian concerned in a child marriage.
(1) Where a minor contracts a child marriage any person having charge of the minor, whether as parent or guardian or in any other capacity, lawful or unlawful, who does any act to promote the marriage or permits it to be solemnized, or negligently fails to prevent it from being solemnized, shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both:
Provided that no woman shall be punished with imprisonment.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2011.