Still slave to Vani
LAYYAH, Sept 27: An eight-year-old girl is being held hostage to the whims of a panchayat – a symbol of an age-old draconian custom which shows how deep-seated is crime against the fair sex in this neck of the wood.
The jury has decided to give innocent Kausar as Vani on a person’s accusation that her father, along with others, had abducted his wife. The incident took place at Mauza Sohiya Thal Jandi in the Kot Sultan police precinct, an area about 22 kilometres away from Layyah.
Dawn learnt that Abdul Ghaffoor lodged an FIR No 105/07 at the Kot Sultan police station against Ghulam Yaseen, Ghulam Abbas and Muhammad Hakeem, accusing them of abducting his wife and taking away Rs50,000 in cash and gold ornaments from his place on May 31, 2007.
In order to make an out-of-court settlement, both parties on July 20 constituted a village jury, comprising Haji Muhammad Ashraf Kharal, Abdul Aziz, Muhammad Akhtar, Ghulam Shabbir, Rahim Bakhsh (a councillor) and Ghulam Abbas. The panchayat at its meeting in September decided that complainant Abdul Ghaffoor would divorce his abducted wife and accused Ghulam Yaseen and others would pay him Rs125,000 as compensation.
It also decreed that Hakeem would marry his eight-year-old daughter Kausar Bibi to Ghulam Murtaza, 14, who is a relative of Ghaffoor. The jury solemnised Nikah between the children and also ordered Yaseen to arrange the marriage within five years after the announcement of the decision. “Failure to do so would mean Rs500,000 penalty to be paid to Abdul Ghaffoor to ensure implementation of this order”, ruled the jury.
Yaseen, the girl’s uncle, also submitted a pro note of Rs500,000 in favour of Abdul Ghaffoor.
Vani is an age-old custom which is illegal and against the norms of civilisation and cultured society, says Nuzhat Yasmeen, a member of the District Public Safety Commission.
Ashraf Kharal, the jury head, however, described it as “a simple decision of exchange marriage (Watta Satta) which is prevalent in our society”.
A human rights activist, Syeda Irshad Begum has appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu action against the jury to save the life of an innocent girl.