11/25/2005

Mindless & Cruel Custom

In Pakistan, the custom of vani was supposed to have been outlawed in January. Vani is the settling of disputes by 'marrying' girls from the offending family to men from the supposedly aggrieved clan. It still exists but some girls who were forced into this cruel practice are fighting back. One such girl, Amna, a woman now, was given to the gift of education to fight it as were her sisters.

Amna was 'married' at the age of 10 and her 'husband' asked that she come live with him when she received her degree.

Amna and her sisters problems started when her uncle supposedly killed a member of the clan she is was forced into marrying into. Her and her sisters as well as many women in Pakistan are forced to pay for the crimes committed by their male relatives.

Amna's troubles began when her uncle was alleged to have to murdered someone from a neighbouring clan.

The aggrieved party asked for the five girls in marriage in order to forgive and forget the murder.

Her father, Amna says, was powerless at the time to stop the deal.

But he chose a novel defence - he decided to educate his girls so they could fight the tradition themselves.

"It was primarily his support that encouraged us to raise our voice," she says.

"Sajida is my father's favourite and the most outspoken among us.

"But all of us had vowed that even if our father buckled under pressure, we would rather commit suicide than to go with our husbands."

One can sense her resentment when she talks about the village maulvi (cleric) who performed the child marriage ceremony.

"He should have known that Islam does not permit such practices," she says.

And she is convinced that her only ally in this dangerous situation is education.

Her village has two schools but they are used, in her words, "to keep cattle".

That was why her father, Jehan Khan Niazi, an accounts officer with a local government department, took her girls to the neighbouring district of Khushab for their schooling.

"I had no option at the time I agreed to give my daughters in vani," Mr Niazi told the BBC.

"The village council gave me only five minutes to decide and that too under the shadow of a gun," he says.

"Even the maulvi told me that the only way to save our lives was to accept the decision of the jirga. Maybe I was a coward, what else can I say?"

Meanwhile, Amna says her family are in peril.

"But I would rather die than to succumb to this mindless and cruel custom." BBC News

Even though their father was forced at the point of a gun to sacrifice his daughters under the cruel and mindless vani, he did give them a weapon in which to fight when they became older: education. Two acts of courage, a father that educated his daughters and the daughters for fighting. I wish them well. They're going to need a lot more courage in the days ahead. For even if and when Amna wins her battle against vani, in a Muslim society, she is still not considered equal and will have to face many the Sharia laws that are staked against women.

Linked: Elmers Brother , a round-up of different bloggers, some very interesting reads.

10 Comments:

Anonymous elmers brother said...

Unbelievable!

6:09 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

elmers brother,

Unreal and unbelievable.

8:33 PM  
Blogger BLOGBANK said...

I might add that the ‘right’ kind of education is a good start. From what I have seen some of the fanatics believe in education also.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

blogbank,

In the BBC article it stated that Amna recieved a degree in English. But I agree with what you are saying. The madrasses funded largely by the Saudi government do not educate.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Felis said...

"He should have known that Islam does not permit such practices," she says."

I am afraid she's not right.
Islam does permits child marriages.

This is the problem when the victims try to defend themselves using Islam - it doesn't work.
The clerics in fact follow the Islamic rules.
Unfortunately it is the good people who are Bad Muslims.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

felis,

Pathetic, isn't it?

4:52 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Felis. Saved me the trouble. This is classic Islamic practice. I'm afraid short of buying those women a one-way ticket to another country, they don't have a lot of hope. And that hope will only survive if that country doesn't give in to pressure to deport the women.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

esther,

I hope they survive.

7:09 AM  
Blogger patrickafir said...

It's the Dark Ages.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

patrickafir,

Medival isn't it!

5:33 AM  

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