Vani verdict

Published: October 9, 2012
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Supreme Court decision to take suo-motu notice of the incident is a welcome initiative. PHOTO: FILE

Supreme Court decision to take suo-motu notice of the incident is a welcome initiative. PHOTO: FILE

Despite laws which specifically ban the act of giving away girls and young women as Vani, or compensation, in order to settle tribal feuds, the practice continues. Still worse, lawmakers who should be working to stop such practices appear to be engaged in promoting them. This puts to nonsense the law aimed at protecting women in such cases, which was passed in December last year. Other legislation specific to Vani or Swara also exists.

In the latest episode, reported from Dera Bugti, 13 girls ranging from age four to 16 years were bartered to settle a blood feud between the Masoori and Shahwani Masoori tribes in the area. The case involves a murder, allegedly committed by a Masoori tribesman. Shockingly, Mir Tariq Masoori Bugti, a member of the Balochistan Assembly, is stated to have conducted the jirga which reached the verdict of ordering the children to be handed over. While he has denied involvement in the affair, he defended the practice of Vani as a valid means to settle disputes.

It is such attitudes which allows practices of this nature to continue even today. While awareness has been raised through films and the media about the issues of Vani and similar traditional practices, injustices continue. It appears that women are still only seen as property and mere objects that can be used to settle feuds between men. Evidently, the laws alone have been insufficient to eliminate this menace from Pakistani society.

Foremost, politicians and administrators need to be educated about the damage caused by such acts. Their involvement in jirgas legitimises the act in the eyes of the people. Instead of presiding over such extrajudicial forums that deliver unlawful verdicts and seal the fate of young girls, lawmakers should be working to eradicate such practices in their respective constituencies. Against this backdrop, the Supreme Court decision to take suo-motu notice of the incident is a welcome initiative. It is hoped that delivering justice in a timely manner will help reduce future occurrences of such practices.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Mirza
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:51AM

    Instead of taking Suo Motu action, the SC should direct the local judges of Balochistan HC to take up this case. The local judges can deal with the local issues better than the big brothers. The SC already had too many cases rotting for decades and they are of national importance not local.

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  • gp65
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:29AM

    “Supreme Court decision to take suo-motu notice of the incident is a welcome initiative. ”
    Are you sure? This points to 2 things abdication of its executive function by the PPP led government (which rules both in centre and Balochistan), overreach by supreme court and failure of army/FCR to ensure a measure of law and order

    The constant cries for CJ o take suo moto notice anytime anything wrong happens in the country are reinforcing low expectations from the government and the all powerful unelected judiciary. People need to rethink and direct their pleas for action in a different direction.

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  • R2D2
    Oct 10, 2012 - 7:39AM

    isnt this the kind of justice khan e Azam wants for these areas?

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