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Last-Minute Reprieve For Pakistani Child Bride

Family Pleads To Save 6-Year-Old From Forced Marriagei
November 08, 2012
The parents and uncle of 6-year-old Bibi Roza in Pakistan's Swat Valley are begging the government to intervene after tribal authorities ordered them to marry her off to resolve a family feud. (Video by RFE/RL Radio Mashaal's Niaz Ahmad Khan)
WATCH: The parents and uncle of 6-year-old Bibi Roza in Pakistan's Swat Valley are begging the government to intervene after tribal authorities ordered them to marry her off to resolve a family feud. (Video by RFE/RL Radio Mashaal's Niaz Ahmad Khan)

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Arrests In Pakistan Marriage Case

Police in Pakistan’s Swat Valley have arrested three members of a "jirga" tribal assembly who allegedly ordered that a 6-year-old girl be married to resolve a dispute among rival families.
By Niaz Ahmad Khan and Frud Bezhan
ASHARI, Pakistan -- A 6-year-old Pakistani girl who faced being married off to settle a family feud appears to have had a last-minute reprieve.

The parents of Bibi Roza had been ordered by village elders in Pakistan's Swat Valley to marry her off on November 11 under a practice known as "swara."

But a court in the town of Saidu Sharif has now ruled the decision by the "jirga" assembly illegal and police have made five arrests in the case, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

The moves come after Bibi Roza's parents made a last-ditch plea for help to stop the wedding going ahead.

In the remote, mountainous areas of northwest Pakistan, local feuds are commonly resolved in customary fashion rather than through common law.

Cases are deliberated by tribal elders gathered in an assembly called a jirga. In the event of a guilty verdict the guilty party is often ordered to compensate the victim by handing over land, money, livestock, or -- in keeping with the swara tradition -- an unmarried daughter.

The age-old tribal practice is seen as a way to peacefully settle even blood feuds, and is seldom challenged. The controversial ruling handed down last week by a jirga in Swat Valley is a rare exception.

In Bibi Roza's case, a jirga ordered that she be married off to a 16-year-old boy from a rival family in order to resolve an ongoing feud.

Avoiding Bloodshed?

Azim Khan, Bibi Roza's 65-year-old father, told RFE/RL earlier this week he made numerous pleas to tribal elders to reconsider their ruling, but with no success. He said the local police, who he accused of supporting the ruling, told him to accept the verdict.

Khan said if he were to refuse to allow the marriage, his disobedience would establish an "enmity" between the two families. And if that were to happen, he predicted, blood would likely flow as the other family sought to restore its honor.

"They [the jirga members] are telling us: 'You agreed with the authorities in Ashari to marry your daughter into the other family. You have no other option,'" Khan says. "Yes, I agreed. But the police officers forced me to agree. They are saying that she will be married this Sunday [November 11]. I have pleaded with them that I cannot let her marry."

Shah Dauran, the local police chief in Ashari, rejected Khan's claims, saying the police had no role in the jirga's decision. Furthermore, he added, the police launched a criminal investigation after the girl's age was revealed.

The five people who have now been arrested in connection with the case include three jirga members, plus the man who was planning to marry the girl and his father.

Question Of Family 'Honor'

The family feud that prompted the jirga decision revolves around Bibi Roza's sister-in-law. The woman, who has not been identified, recently married Bibi Roza's brother despite being engaged to another man. The woman's former fiance, after finding out about her marriage, took his grievance to the tribal elders.

In the course of the jirga, the man claimed his family's honor had been tarnished and his former fiance's marriage was illegal. He pleaded for a ruling that would both restore his family's pride and exact punishment on his ex-fiance’s family.

Swara, the practice of exchanging women and girls to settle personal feuds, is common in areas of northwestern Pakistan like Swat Valley, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

In 2004, the Pakistani parliament declared the practice a criminal offense punishable by a minimum of a three-year prison sentence. But the practice continues in regions where customary law and tradition remain strong.

Before the news on November 9 of a reprieve for her daughter, Bibi Roza's mother, who did not give her name, made this heartfelt plea.

"The other family wants this innocent child to observe the custom of swara. The elders have ruled that she must marry on Sunday," she said. "I have pleaded with them that she is only a child. I said, 'Don't take her away, she's only 6 years old.' All Muslims need to think about this. I have asked the government to help us so she can stay home, because she is only a minor.”

Written by Frud Bezhan based on reporting by RFE/RL Radio Mashaal correspondent Niaz Ahmad

Frud Bezhan

Frud Bezhan covers Afghanistan and the broader South Asia and Middle East region. Send story tips to 

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Comment Sorting
by: Batwings from: America
November 08, 2012 18:31
If any of you think this is an isolated case, you are living in a dream world. This happens all over muslim controlled countries and if something isn't done about the ileagal, non-natural born American, muslim/communist that just got re-elected as president(?), we Americans will see that muslim crap coming to America.
In Response

by: Alison from: Ottawa
November 08, 2012 20:25
Batwings - I think you may be insane. This is not a Muslim issue so much as a regional issue and the people are Muslim. You are aware of Mormons living in America, I hope...or maybe you are suffering from Romnesia!
In Response

by: Molly from: Texas
November 08, 2012 20:35
Batwings, you are an idiot!
In Response

by: Anonymous from: America
November 08, 2012 20:44
Really, that's so strange... considering this so called muslim communist (our POTUS) is more for womens rights than the Republicans. Or is that all just a lie and a ploy to fool us silly Americans into thinking he's safe and in no way out to take over the world? So funny, how the other option (Romney/Ryan and their team of... batwings, brains, whatever),are actually against marriage equality, contraception, women's right to choose, socialized medicine, premarital sex, are okay with rape, (one representitive of the party) went on record to say that we should be able to stone our children, and of course seperation of church and state is a sin and we're all going to hell.... hilarious how this is in perfect line with almost exactly what these nutjobs in the Middle East think.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 08, 2012 21:01
Methinks Batwings is batshit about his comments on Obama.
In Response

by: Bruce Wayne from: Gotham
November 08, 2012 21:23
1.)We know this isn't an isolated incident- it says it's common in the article. This happens in underdeveloped countries- religion is only the scapegoat. This sort of this is not common practice for modern Muslims- I can say that first hand because I come a Arab/Muslim family and we would never condone this. Child brides are commonplace for any religion that is not up to date- it happens in many parts of Africa, Asia and Europe and in non-muslim countries. 2.) Obama is not Muslim- he does not fast on Ramadan/celebrate Eid, he has openly drunk alcohol and eaten pork, he has not made a pilgrimage to Mecca, he doesn't even know Arabic to read the Koran, etc. Plus he goes to Church/identifies as Christian. He has done nothing to indicate he's Muslim. The only reason bigots like you say this crap is because he's not white *gasp!*. Even if he was Muslim that's no reason to think he's an extremist- that's just racist. Also, I think you should look up the definition of 'communism' before you go accusing people of promoting it. If you want to complain about a religion being pushed on Americans why not take a look at Christianity? It's being pushed into our children's education, and even the law despite the fact that there is a separation of Church and state. Read a book, learn to spell, and do some research on the things you pretend to know about.
In Response

by: Rooticles from: UK
November 08, 2012 21:24
Praise the Lord that The American Taliban aka the Koch Bros Cohorts aka The Tea Party aka The Christian Fundamentalists (whose rhetoric bares no relation to the teachings of Jesus) did not take control of America!

Batwings, can't you see that your statement is as narrow minded as the Jirga above ?
In Response

by: discordia from: America
November 08, 2012 21:40
1) This isn't about America. Unless you have suggestions on what we can do to help this poor girl, like urge our government to ask Pakistan to let her remain unmarried.

2) We'e all been waiting for 4 years for any of you to produce any hard evidence that President Obama is Muslim. You haven't, and you won't, because you can't, because it doesn't exist, because he isn't Muslim. Knock it off.
In Response

by: Carol from: Canada
November 08, 2012 22:06
Old / traditional ways take a lot longer to die out in more remote areas. It's heartening to hear that they can still get legal assistance from police, that the 2004 law is being enforced, and that there has been action to protect the child (2 men arrested). @Batwings, it's unfortunate that you've chosen to comment on this story. You are not well informed.
In Response

by: Anonymous from: United States
November 08, 2012 22:08
You are absolutely crazy. Enough of this crap about the president being a non-natural born American and communist. Does this country seem like it's gone to communism? No, not in the least bit and it's you closed minded people that make it the worst, spewing this garbage. And if you think there aren't Muslim's in our country already then you are sadly mistaken. Grow up and get a life.
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 08, 2012 22:15
"In the remote, mountainous areas of Pakistan's northwest..." What part of that opening statement was your mind unable to comprehend? Did you assume that it meant this appalling practice was widely accepted across 70 million Pakistanis, or across 1.4 billion Moslems (24% of humanity)? "This happens all over muslim controlled countries..." Where? Give evidence to support your contention or withdraw it.
In Response

by: wow from: America
November 08, 2012 22:34
Batwing is a tad bit batty, that rant was out of control.
In Response

by: crowsnest from: Canada
November 08, 2012 23:04
President Obama was born in Hawaii and therefore not an illegal .
He is not a communist but rather a Democrat.

The article was about the practise of ' swara ' in primitive areas not about the USA 's President.
In Response

by: Redhead from: Denver, CO
November 08, 2012 23:56
Holy crap, you are insane. This isn't about religion, it's about ignorance and rural territories and women not being seen as humans but as livestock to be traded. I voted for Obama 4 years ago. I voted for Romney this time. I wouldn't care if Obama WAS Muslim (which he is NOT) anymore than I care that Romney is Mormon. THIS IS ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS. That you can't see that is a BIG part of what is wrong with this country NOT the religious practices, skin color or birthplace of President Obama or his family. God save us from "Christians" like yourself.
In Response

by: Marco from: Texan
November 09, 2012 00:25
too late
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 10, 2012 23:28
It would appear that Pakistan is quite capable of doing something about this legally - a islamic court (no doubt convened from some of the "muslim crap" as you put it) has ordered and actioned the arrests of 3 of the jirga members associated with this bizarre incident.

As for your newly re-elected president and his communist leanings, then perhaps it could be argued that he should have not intervened and allowed the banking system to implode, and also continued to allow 44,000 US citizens to die each year due to lack of health care (AMA figures). Perhaps he took a good look at the health systems operating in the lands of his closest and most dependable allies - Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (all democratic christian Whte-Anglo Saxon-Protestant countries that I am sure you will approve of) - and decided to copy them. Well done Mr Obama - you are now only 50 years behind these countries and you still have a long way to go.

by: christie from: usa
November 08, 2012 21:00
What can we do to save this little girl and the ones to follow? This saddens me and angers me these are little girls sweet precious innocent girls. This is not something that should be ignored.

by: Em
November 08, 2012 21:18
Batwings, take your Right Wing, hate filled, ill-informed, ignorant, opinions and keep them to yourself. You are EVERYTHING that is wrong with the US and people like you are the reason that the rest of the world either hates your country and or sits back and laughs at you. By the way we don't want your ilk in either Europe or Canada. So please stay your side of the border. Now run along, get another swastika and have a wonderful day.
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 11, 2012 22:46
I admire your passion, Em, but personal criticism will only cause our commenter to not listen. We should approach him with good counter-arguments. His position is probably based on ill-informed sources of information - we need to challenge those and help him see that they do him no good.

by: Batwings from: America
November 11, 2012 20:46
This is for all you obozo lovers and those who beleave this child marrage thing is bogus. I spent 6 years of my life living in and around those people and I guarentee you it is REAL through out the muslim world. They treat females as a piece of crap.
BTW: Obozo is NOT a natural born Anerican. This recient thing with General Petraus is that he was threatened about his knowlege of the Bengausie thing and he was gonna blow the top off it. That is why he resigned.

by: Batwings from: America
November 12, 2012 18:16
OMG!! I didn't know there were so many stupid people cruising this site. I'll bet you all voted for the "Prince of Fools".
As for the issue of the treatment of women/girls in muslim countries, I have lived there for 6 years and have seen that crap first hand. So, unless you have been there and witnessed it first hand, you jerks have no room to talk. Get your heads out of your "Dark place" and see what's going on in the world. It may educate you....MAYBE!!!!
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 12, 2012 22:39
Batwings, it would be best to support your argument with facts rather than half-hidden claims - lived where for 6 years?
In Response

by: El Cid
November 13, 2012 06:46
@Batwings: “If any of you think this is an isolated case, you are living in a dream world. This happens all over muslim controlled countries and if something isn't done about the ileagal, non-natural born American, muslim/communist that just got re-elected as president(?), we Americans will see that muslim crap coming to America”
Your reading comprehension and world travel experience---including six years of living with Muslims in Pakistan's rugged mountainous hinter land, sub-zero winters without heat or running water---notwithstanding. And while not discounting your English comprehension, grammar, writing ability, spelling, I must restate the facts of the case that you appear to have overlooked:
1. It was an isolated case. Nothing to do with “Islamic controlled countries”, or the over 1.4Billion Muslim people of the world, or their customs.
2. It is not an Islamic Shariah Law, Islamic practice, or Muslim custom.
3. It was a family feud between two families of the same small remote mountain village.
4. It is a tribal custom directed at reducing generational feud and blood shed in an area where official authority of law is difficult to project...its proxy to local police official (sheriff equivalent) easily reverts, becomes subservient to local Jirga or Village Court.
5. When the local police authority failed, the Provincial Authority under Shariah Law in an Islamic Court arrested five people: The 16year old proposed groom, the father of the potential groom, and three elders---Judges of the local Jirga Court.

Further, the President of the United States was born in the US, his mother's passport/records have no Kenyan visa or travel stamp...his father could not possibly have given birth to him however much you 'birthers' may disagree. He is perfectly legal under the US Constitution.

And is a highly intelligent, daring and ruthless leader, best able to deal with the “Muslim Crap” that you so are very apprehensive of. Also he is best equipped to destroy Muslim countries, kill Muslims, and end Islam, should he so choose. You may thus sleep carefree, just look both ways when you cross the street, and you will be safe. The country is safe in his able hands.

[PS: Please note that “Muslim Communist” is an oxymoron...if you know what that means. And out of curiosity: Where did you get your basic education? ]

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