Forced marriage: Woman seeks protection

Sofia, 16, was forced to marry Naveed, who subjected her to sexual abuse.


Muhammad Sadaqat July 28, 2012

MANSEHRA:


A woman married to a man against her will has sought the help of the chief justice and provincial government for providing protection to her family. She alleged that the accused abducted and married her forcibly while giving another girl as vani.


Sofia Niaz, 16, daughter of Muhammad Niaz of Jaskran village, lodged an FIR in the Lasan Nawab Sahib Police Station against an SHO of the same police station, Shad Muhammad Khan, and 17 others.

She alleged that on the night of March 4, when she was home with her siblings, Naveed, son of Qari Fareed of Tarapi village, barged into their house. The accused forcibly took her to a seminary from where her mother Hameeda Bibi brought her back with the help of some villagers.

The next morning when her father went to register an FIR against the accused, the SHO detained him, she added.

She said that since she was already engaged to another man, the SHO also called him to the jirga that sat at the police station on March 5. During the jirga, the SHO asked her father to solemnise the marriage of Sofia with Naveed as they had been spotted together at the seminary and it would bring bad name to the family. She added that the SHO announced the verdict that Sofia should get married to Naveed and he should give his sister to Babar.

The complainant said that she tried to prove her innocence, imploring that she should not be punished by being forced to marry a middle-aged married man. “I told the jirga that I’m engaged to Babar and want to get married to him,” she told the police.

She added that the SHO and jirga members did not listen to her and took her to the mosque adjacent to the police station and forcibly solemnised her nikkah with Naveed, gaving Tahira’s (Naveed’s sister) as vani and solemnised her nikkah with Babar at the same time.

She accused Naveed, son of Pesh Imam, of subjecting her to sexual assault and keeping her locked in a room for about a month. She further said that he refused to take her to a doctor despite her incessant complains of feeling unwell.

However some days back, Sofia managed to escape from Naveed’s home when he was away.

On her complaint, the police registered a case against the 18 accused, including SHO Naveed, his father, Qari Mushtaq, Qari Abdul Latif (the moulvi who performed the nikkah), Irshad, Javed, Salim, Farooq, Khan Bahadur, Aurangzeb who were at the jirga.

However, after remaining jailed for about three months, the accused were bailed out by the Abbottabad bench of Peshawar High Court on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Sofia expressed the apprehension that the accused who were influential, would harm her and her family members as they have hurled threats several times from jail forcing her to compromise, which she declined as the they all have destroyed her life marrying her off without her consent and giving another girl as vani.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.

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