Jamal Safi

“I pray to God that what ever happened to me after I had been given in Swara, no woman should see that”, told by Sana Gul victim of Swara with teary eyes.

Swara is one of one of the most despicable cultural practice in our part of the world. Though the crime is committed by a male but the price is to be paid by the family females in the shape of Swara.

In the past, such decisions of jirgas and elders have cost the lives of thousands of women. Tears well up in the eyes, if you will hear of the plight of these women.
Sana had been given as a Swara just two months ago in Hoti area of Mardan.

She said that her brother had killed her neighbor for just a petty issue. She said that neighbor boy was using their field path and her brother was not happy with that.

So Sana’s brother tried to stop him few times but that boy insisted to use the same route, that’s why her brother killed him.

After that incident, a jirga decided that Sana should be given in marriage to slain boy brother to end the enmity.

Rubab Mehdi, regional Chief Commissioner of Ombudsman office Peshawar said that her department had net yet received any case of Swara. However, she said that in personal capacity they had solved two to three cases of Swara.

She termed Swara as worst harassment because whole family has been harassing the girl in such cases and the girl have to leave lifelong in enemy house,” so the girl becomes a psychiatric patient”, she added.

A journalist and researcher Jibran Mehboob Buneri said that there were a number of hypotheses about the history of Swara in the history books, but it is said that this practice started almost 500 years ago to bring peace to Pashtun area.

He said that later King Akbar also took legal action to abolish the Swara and Hindu ritual of Sati. Mr Buneri said that at that time, if the crime were low, so the one-third of the crop have to be given to victim family. And if the crime was more serious then one of the victim family males would marry a woman of the other party.

The aim was to bring about mutual peace between the two sides. But then the ritual took a turn for the worse.

He said that at that time, women would be considered as the honor of a house. Therefore, whoever gives his daughter or sister in Swara, the enmity will turn into peace.

Natasha Khan, a Peshawar High court lawyer and human right activist elaborated the legal course to stop Swara.

She said that an amendment to the criminal law was introduced in year 2004 to end this practice. Under which the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Pakistan Penal Code have been amended. The law makes it a punishable offense to marry a woman or a girl for the sake of peace.

Ms Khan said that those convicted of the crime were sentenced to between three to seven years in prison besides a penalty of Rs 500,000 can also be imposed on the perpetrators.

She argued that this is also the duty of lawyers to bring awareness about the legal ways, so the general public could then be more aware of their rights but unfortunately the lawyers hand confined themselves to courts only.

The Federal Shariah Court in the country has also declared Swara against Sharia. And in the light of Qur’an and Hadiths, they have considered this ritual as illegal. Therefore, it is necessary to stop such illegal rituals in this Islamic and Pashtun homeland.


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