ISLAMABAD, Dec 27: Swara custom is not only un-Islamic but also inhuman and must be abolished to bring to end the ordeal of helpless girls paying price for the crimes they never committed. This was highlighted in a documentary entitled Swara - A bridge over troubled water screened at the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) media centre here on Tuesday.

The film has been produced by Samar Minalah, who had recently challenged Swara, invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The film has been sponsored by Apna Ghar, a project of Aurat Foundation.

Swara is a mode of dispute settlement under which the family of a murderer gives one of its young girls in marriage to the family of the victim as compensation.

Religious scholars have been shown in the documentary decreeing that Swara amounts to forced marriage for which there is no room in Islam. Marriage is a social contract and consent of spouses is something essential for it.

The documentary also highlights the fact that the victims of Swara are stigmatised till death. In many cases, when minor girls are given in marriage under this cannibal custom, they commit suicide on reaching maturity.

Some victims have been shown in the documentary telling that how they were forced to sacrifice their lives for the murders committed by their fathers or brothers.

One minor girl said that she was only eight when given under Swara and was married to an old man at 13. Another girl said that she was six when given under Swara for a murder committed by her father, who died some days after the pronouncement of Swara.

She said the man to whom she had been given under the custom was to take her away on reaching maturity but he started insisting that she must be handed over to him immediately. Another proposal put forth by him was payment of Rs100,000 as compensation.

She said she worked as a labourer to earn money and give it to the person to end the trauma. She also received severe injuries by falling off a roof while carrying bricks. “It was only after the payment of Rs100,000 that they considered the dispute settled,” she added.

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