A five-year-old girl has been given in marriage to a 40-year-old man as ‘punishment’ for her father’s elopement with that man’s sister.
Habiba Bibi*, a resident of Chak 178 EB, told The Express Tribune that her daughter was taken away from her and handed over to Anwar Ali* following a panchayat held at the latter’s residence three days ago.
Habiba said the panchayat also imposed a Rs400,000 fine on her. She said a hundred thousand she had saved was snatched from her with a warning that she would be expelled from the village in case she failed to pay the remaining amount. A district and sessions judge has summoned Vehari district police officer for October 8 in a complaint Habiba filed on Wednesday.
Habiba said she had decided to approach the court after she lost all hope of getting her daughter back. “My husband married Ali’s sister and ran away with her. He may be penalised for it. I wouldn’t let my daughter pay for his actions,” she said.
She said her husband had been seeing Ali’s sister for over a year and some four months ago they disappeared. She said she had several quarrels with him over the issue.
The panchayat that declared Sakina’s sister vani consisted of influential landlords from Meetla, Toba Tek Singh, Cheechawatni and Dunyapur.
Talking to The Express Tribune, some of the panchayat members said they had decided the issue in accordance with their traditions. They rejected the suggestion that the verdict was unfair to the child.
Ali said he was satisfied with the panchayat decision. “Justice has been done. He took my sister. It’s only fair that I get a woman from his family in return,” he said.
A Revenue Department employee at the village, said he had tried to intervene and stop the panchayat from declaring the child wani but no one listened to him.
DPO Nasir Rizvi was not available for comment.
Some residents of the village said the panchayat had been biased.
“They stayed at Ali’s dera and also organised the panchayat over there. What else could one expect from them?” said a villager.
*Names have been changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2011.