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Under-age girl married off under jirga verdict

SUKKUR, May 31: An under-age girl was married to a 40-year old man in Tando Ali Sher village in the Chak area of Shikarpur district on Friday evening to resolve a dispute related to a karo-kari incident.

A jirga was held in the village under the chair of Syed Khairal Shah to resolve the six-month old dispute between the families of Atta Mohammad Indhar and Hadi Bux Indhar, residents of Abdullah Indhar village, over the allegation of karo-kari against the son of Atta Mohammad.

The jirga after hearing both the parties at length declared Noor Mohammad guilty of having illicit relations with a niece of Hadi Bux and ordered him to marry his 12-year old daughter Zulekha to Nisar Ahmed, 40, son of Hadi Bux.

The Nikah was solemnized on the spot but the under-age bride would remain at her parents’ home for the time being.

When the Chak police station was contacted, head constable Mohammad Ali expressed ignorance about the jirga and said that no one had so far turned up at the police station with any complaint regarding the jirga.

Fifteen under-age girls of the Chakrani tribe were engaged to “marry” Qalandarani tribesmen on the Sindh-Balochistan border near Kashmore on Friday to settle a blood feud between the two tribes.

The Chakrani tribe had pledged to “marry off” three- to 10-year-old girls to Qalandarani tribesmen, irrespective of their age, to settle the eight-year-old dispute under the verdict of a jirga held in Lanjoo Saghari village on Wednesday.

The marrying of minor and under-age girls in rival tribes/families as a fine for crimes like murder or adultery under a jirga verdict is a common practice in the rural areas of upper Sindh and tribal hinterland of Balochistan.

The Sindh High Court’s Sukkur circuit bench banned the holding of a jirga (tribal court) a few years ago on a public interest petition.

The high court’s order was implemented for a brief period during which tribal elders and feudal lords avoided presiding over jirgas for the fear of reprisal by the superior judiciary.

The situation changed after Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad, known for intervening in such matters, was deposed last year. This development has encouraged the custodians of feudal culture to resume practices like the holding of jirgas and the marrying of minor or under-age girls to settle disputes.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/1/2008

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