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Police, administration move in to block minors’ marriage

ISLAMABAD: Police and the district administration came into action on Saturday to block the marriage of two minor girls in a Wani case to two adult male members of a rival family by making several arrests in the case.

The police had to come into action after reports of the Wani case in village Biran, Tehsil and district Abbottabad, in the media on Saturday where five-year-old Haleema Bibi and eight-year-old Ayesha were given in marriage to 23-year-old Arshad and 15-year-old Humayun of the opponent’s family by a Jirga of elders because an uncle of the minor girls had entered into a court marriage with a girl of the opponent’s family some six months back.

District Police Officer (DPO), Abbottabad, Imtiaz Shah, while talking to The News said he had taken action on the media reports and an FIR had been lodged against those responsible. He said the father of the two girls, fathers of the boys to whom the innocent girls were being married, the cleric who solemnized the marriage contract and some other people of the Jirga had been arrested.

Sources, however, claimed that some influential members of the Jirga, who were the decision-makers, had not been touched by the police. When the DPO was asked about the influential persons who had made such a cruel decision, he said the police will deal with each and everyone under the law and will not leave anyone involved in the case. He said the case of Ayesha, 8, and Haleema 5, was not a case of Wani as the girls were not sent with those to whom they were married. He said there was a custom that if some one abducts a girl of a family, then girls of opponent’s family are given in marriage to the aggrieved family to remove their grievance.

When asked whether any girl was abducted in case of these two minor girls, the DPO said, No. “These two minor girls have been given in Nikah to persons of the other family but have not been sent with those to whom they were married,” he said. However, he admitted that a wrong had been done.

Assistant Coordination Officer (ACO), Abbottabad, Mudassar Riaz Malik, said a pathetic precedent was being set-up in Abbottabad and he would leave no stone unturned to eliminate such an evil practice. He said under the law, he could arrest all the Jirga members and had given an order in this regard. He said the Nikah of the minor girls was solemnized verbally, which “had no worth”. He had sought comments from the DSP Legal as to how this evil could be countered. He said he had called the chief Khateeb of Abbottabad and asked him to condemn the issue at all fora so that such evil could be eliminated from the region. He pledged not to allow any person of the Jirga to indulge in cruel practices, which were religiously, ethically and morally condemned.

Meanwhile, President Progressive Women Association Shehnaz Bukhari said our society had become so inhuman towards women that they were treated like animals and the case of two minor girls of Abbottabad was a true depiction of the same.

She said the matter had been raised by the national newspapers but the government had done nothing whereas every human rights organisation expected more from the PPP government whose party leader was also a woman. “Police are trying to overlook the issue but in reality it is a serious issue, which must be dealt with sternly.”
Source: The News
Date:2/9/2009

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