34 girls given in ‘vani’ in five years: report

May 26,2018

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LAHORE: Thirty-four cases of vani were reported across the Punjab during the last five years. As per report released by Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), three cases of vani were reported from District Rajanpur, three cases from Layyah, two cases from Dera Ghazi Khan and one each case was reported from District Bhakkar, Jhang, Vehari, Sahiwal, Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar and Rahimyar Khan in 2017.

Similarly, seven cases reported from across the province in 2016 included two cases from Bhakkar, one each from Rawalpindi, Khushab, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh and Rahimyar Khan. In 2015, one case of vani from Rahimyar Khan was reported. In 2014, four cases were reported across the province. One case from each district, including Sargodha, Mianwali, Khanewal and Rahimyar Khan were reported. In 2013, two cases from Khushab and Mianwali were reported. In 2012, one case from Sahiwal was reported.

Tanvir Jahan, a social activist, said that girls, sometimes infants too, were given in marriage as compensation for murder / crime committed by their men in Jirga system in the name of vani or Khoon Baha. She condemned this rite and called it inhuman. According to her, in this rite, innocent girls paid heavy price for the crimes committed by their brother, father and other male family members. The women were treated as a slave and given in vani, she said.

According to Tanvir Jahan, in case of vani no marriage ceremony was held rather the victim girl was sent to her husband in ordinary clothes. Similarly, it did not make any difference either she was the second or the third wife. Most of the vani victims were under 18, she said. She said, according to law, "The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, 2011” under Section 310-A, there shall be punishment for giving a female in marriage or otherwise in badla-e-sulh, vani or swara or any other custom or practice under any name in consideration of settling a civil dispute or a criminal liability, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years but shall not be less than three years and shall also be liable to a fine of Rs500,000.

This practice can be eliminated by launching a campaign on massive level, she said, adding that there were thousands of cases which were yet to be reported.

Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Fauzia Viqar said that conviction rate was zero due to several lacunas in law which needed to be addressed. She said that criminal justice system could not fulfill the complete demands of justice as there was no appropriate security for the witnesses. Additionally, people did not report the cases due to the mutual consent of both families- victim and the accused party. She said society should play its due role in this regard as the victims could not pursue the case against their relatives, she concluded.


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