In Pakistan, Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has declared ‘Compensation Marriages’ as un-Islamic by law, reported local media.
Compensation marriages, known as the tradition of Swara or Vani, is a custom found in many parts of Pakistan. It is a practice in which girls, who are often underage, are forcefully given in marriage or confinement to an aggrieved family as compensation to end disputes, more often murders. The result of punishment is usually decided by a council of tribal elders named jirga.
Dawn newspaper reported that a three-judge bench headed by FSC Chief Justice Noor Mohammad Meskenzai said that the tradition of Swara is against the injunctions of Islam. Sakeena Bibi, who is the petitioner, said that the tradition snatches the fundamental rights of a woman or young girl.
“The petitioner requested the court to declare this custom as illegal,” Dawn reported.
A jurist consult at the FSC, Dr. Mohammad Aslam Khaki, said Swara violated at least four fundamental rights, “According to him, since the girl is offered by the accused family, she in most of the cases is deprived of even basic facilities, hence subjected to discrimination. Secondly, she is wedded to a man without her consent. Thirdly, she is not entitled to dowry, and fourthly, she cannot file legal suit for khula — dissolution of marriage”.
According to Dr. Khaki, the rightful way to settle a murder is the payment of diyat or blood money, which is permitted in Islam.
By law, Swara is un-Islamic and hence must be discontinued at all costs for the betterment of society. However, since the command of government is weak in rural areas of the country, the practice continues to take place under the local jirga system. In 2005, and 2011, the Swara system was declared illegal in Pakistan. In 2004, the Sindh High Court (SHC) outlawed all such “parallel justice” systems.
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