MANSEHRA:A girl was reportedly given as vani to compensate for her brother’s crime in a remote village of Oghi tehsil in Mansehra, the police said on Friday. Oghi police was told the nikkah ceremony of Samra*, 18, and Shah Nawaz took place some time ago. The rukhsati was due after Eidul Fitr. However, four days ago, Samra reportedly eloped with Aslam*. A case was registered at Oghi police station. Eight-year-old girl forced into marriage to settle dispute in Mansehra When it was discovered that Samra eloped with Aslam, a local jirga of councillors of the area persuaded Aslam’s family to return Samra. They also asked them to give a girl from their family to Shah Nawaz’s brother, Kamran, as vani.
Samra was brought back to her parents’ house on the guarantee that no harm would come to her. Haibat Khan, a local, told the police that after Samra returned, the same jirga solemnised the nikkah of Aslam’s 11-year-old sister with Kamran. However, it has yet to be confirmed if the girl was sent to her in-laws’ house as of yet. Oghi SHO Amir Khan was not available to comment on the matter, while his staff members said an enquiry was under way to determine whether the girl was actually given as vani or not.
Nothing new The custom of vani is not new to the region. In April, an eight-year-old girl’s fate was decided by a jirga when it ordered her family to marry her off as vani to settle a dispute. Combatting the menace of child marriagesPolice told The Express Tribune at the time that Maham Bibi* married Tufail* in a court. This resulted in a dispute between the families of the husband and the wife and they approached a jirga to find a solution. The jirga decided Tufail’s niece, eight-year-old Iqra Bibi, will marry Maham Bibi’s father Ghulam Hussain. As if using the child to settle the dispute was not enough, jirga elders also asked Tufail to pay Rs500,000 as a fine to solemnise the marriage with Maham Bibi.However, officials claimed the jirga’s decision was not implemented due to police interference.
A police official said, “A majority of jirga members opposed this decision.” He added the jirga finally agreed to visit Hussain’s house to convince him to forgive the couple and strike a compromise under local traditions. Mansehra DSP Muhammad Hafeez said timely intervention by police foiled the vani attempt. “Since the offence was not committed, I have sought advice from prosecutors to see if we can take legal action against the parties and jirga members,” he said. However, officials told The Express Tribune that the jirga decided to hand over the minor girl to Maham Bibi’s father as vani on April 20.
*NAMES CHANGED TO PROTECT IDENTITY