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SC asks police to act against Vani, Sawara

March 17, 2006

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ISLAMABAD, March 16: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over non-implementation of its orders to the provincial police chiefs to stop the practice of marriage as compensation under the Vani and Sawara customs.

Taking suo motu notice of the recent marriage of one Zarina Bibi of Kalar Kot village in Bhakkar district under the custom of Vani, a bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry directed Punjab Assistant Advocate-General Afshan Ghazanfar to convey the court’s orders to the district police officer concerned.

Zarina, 30, was given away as Vani to one Din Mohammed at the age of seven as compensation for a crime committed by her brother.

Although Din Mohammed married again, he neither gave Zarina the status of a legal wife nor divorced her. She has been living in her father’s house and her family has been pleading with the man to divorce her.

After the court proceedings, the assistant advocate-general contacted the DPO concerned and was told that a case had been lodged and the accused had been arrested.

On Feb 24, the court had ordered the inspectors-general of police of the provinces to adopt concrete measures for protecting Vani victims and put a stop to such marriages.

Samar Minallah, a petitioner in a Sawara case, told the court that her organisation would provide Zarina Bibi legal assistance.

Ms Minallah said her organisation was carrying out research on Sawara in the NWFP with the support of the Gender Equality Project.

The hearing was adjourned till the last week of April.