The fight against swara
RARELY does one get to show appreciation for the police for its timely intervention in preventing a crime. However, that is what happened in Timergara in the NWFP when the police stepped in to stop a three-year-old girl from being handed over as compensation as swara.
They produced the child’s father before a local court and got him to sign an undertaking that the girl would not be handed over to any family. This must be commended for it shows that the police and administration are doing their job of preventing crimes.
For far too long, girls as young as three-months old have been used as compensation to settle scores between rival families. This is despite existing laws, like a Peshawar High Court ruling in 2000, that declare swara as contrary to Islamic law.
It was when the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of such barbaric acts two years ago and asked all law enforcement agencies to apprehend those involved that some action began to be taken.
It helps that girls who were “married” at young ages and are now of marriageable age are standing up and refusing to honour such agreements. This is because they have been educated and have become aware of opportunities that are available to them.
However, laws alone cannot make the kind of difference that society needs if it is to progress. It is unfair to expect people to abandon their traditions and cultural norms overnight.
To get society to understand the obsoleteness of their thinking Â— be it on swara/vani or honour killings– one needs to have mass awareness campaigns on the subjects.
People need to be made aware of how the world is changing for the better, that women have rights which need to be respected and upheld. This dialogue, coupled with strict action against culprits, will pave the way out of obscurantism.