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Pakistani Provincial Assembly Criminalizes Tribal Marriage Custom

Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has passed a law criminalizing an ancient tribal marriage custom.

On January 8, the provincial assembly declared the Pashtun custom of "ghagh" punishable by up to seven years in prison or a fine of nearly $6,000.

Ghagh entitles a man to force his marriage proposal on a woman by making it public.

Rights activists denounce the custom as abusive, saying it deprives women of the prospect of a happy marriage.

Pakistan's 30 million Pashtuns live chiefly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the adjacent tribal areas.

The custom is generally in decline, but activists say it still persists in southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in the tribal areas where years of insurgency have eroded social solidarity and government control.

Based on reporting by and