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Police hunt men seeking girl to clear poker debt

KARACHI: Police are seeking 10 men, including several tribal elders, accused of pressuring a woman to hand over her teenage daughter as payment for a 16-year-old poker debt, officials said on Tuesday.

In the latest case highlighting how customs threaten women’s rights in Pakistan, Nooran Umrani alleged that despite paying off her late husband’s debt of Rs 10,000, she was threatened with harm if she failed to handover her daughter, Rasheeda.

The 17-year-old was to be surrendered as a bride for the son of Lal Haider, the man who won the card game years before, Umrani told reporters on Monday in Hyderabad.

Police said on Tuesday that the mother and daughter were in their protection and that an investigation was launched against Haider, his son and eight others.

“We are investigating the matter and vigorously searching” for the men, Hyderabad police chief Irfan Bhutto said. Nooran said her husband was a gambler who ran up the debt at a poker game when Rasheeda was only one-year old. He promised Haider that he would get Rasheeda in lieu of payment when she grew up, Nooran said.

Koral Shah, another Hyderabad police officer, said both families belong to the Umrani tribe of Balochistan. He said a group of elders from the tribe had come to Hyderabad in January to investigate the case and had ruled that, under tribal custom, the girl should be married to Haider’s 23-year-old son Abdul Ghani. Police want to arrest the elders, he said.

Source: The News

Date:2/28/2007

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