In every culture there are
norms, values customs and taboos and every culture is amalgamation of these
things. These norms and customs represent the local population mindset and their
position in social change and development. Everyone being representing their
concern culture always busy in supporting and promoting of their customs and
traditions because everyone wants that their culture should be promoted. But in
every culture there are so many customs and traditions which are being practiced
but not promoted and supported by the local population. They do practice the
concern customs and traditions but behind the walls and just confined to family
or kinship. The other people most of the time called it social issue, the
international community called it violation of human rights and the local
population called it their secret Customs and tradition and talks on these
issues are prohibited because they considered it against their honour.
Vani or swara is a custom practiced in Pakistan rural areas especially in Punjab
and Khyber pakhtunkhwa. The local media called it Social issue, the
international community called it Violation of human rights and the practicing
people called it solution for resolving the enmity between two groups. Vani is a
Pashto word derived from "Vanay" which stands for blood. Vani is culture
practice which is very common in Pashtoon families.
This cruel custom also practices in Punjab especially in Mianwali and
neighboring areas, which becomes there social norm. Mianwali is a region in the
north-west of Punjab province, in Pakistan. According to this custom an enmity
based on murder or Zina should be resolved by giving a minor girl in the
marriage of opposite group. In phaktoon family, girls are given Vani marriage
for as compensation of murder, adultery, abduction and kidnapping which is
Committed by the men of the family. Further more in the tribes vani is practice,
which has no written rules and regulation. In vani, if one family or tribe of a
village kills member of other
Family or tribe, then the criminal family or tribe offer a girl or woman to the
aggrieved family to settle the enmity. Vani Tradition is an old age tradition.
This tradition started almost 400 years ago when two 'Pathan' tribes of Mianwali
fought a bloody war. During the war approximately 800 people were killed. At
that time Nawab of Tank tried to solve the problem. He called the "Girga" (local
court) who decided that girls are given as Qisas. Later on this decision became
a custom which passed over generation to generation. This tradition is practiced
in different areas of Sindh, Punjab and NWFP. These marriages are known as Vani,
Sakh, Sawara, Sharam, Khoon Baha, and Sang Chatti with the difference of
languages in different areas. The girls who are being given in marriage to the
opposite party ages are among 8 to 14 years and the men who receive the girls
ages are from 25 to 60 years.
This tradition is deep rooted in the Pashto culture and in pashti it is known as
Swara. Even in today’s modern time the custom is being practice in rural kpk and
in all tribal areas. This is an old tradition and the tradition of that time
when girls were not being considered as human and at the time of birth they were
burnt. But the question is this that in the time of modern courts and law, human
rights organization, NGOs and influence of media why this humiliating practice
is still common in areas of Pakistan. The local elder people gives their
argument in the favor of this customs and says that if the whole family life can
be saved by one girl so there in no harm in it. The custom is so deep rooted
that the victims girls most of the time their self for Swara willingly. But the
behavior which is done with that girl after marriage is always humiliating.
According to vani custom the any girl and women of criminal party accept as vani
but in community the custom are not like this. There are some proffered girls or
women for compensation purpose. These are sister, daughter, daughter of brother;
etc if girl of that criminal party is not available then they can buy the girl
and give effected family. But mostly it is preferred that the girl and women are
kid of that criminal person or group. In the effected family male member are
also required for marriage purpose. There is no specification for male or bride
groom. On effected side male can be brother, son, father etc. Mostly that person
is chosen who are older, abnormal and those by whom marriage is not possible.
The vani practice is also violates the constitutional law. Like in vani women
liberty and mobility are restricted but in Article 9 of the Constitution are
guarantees that any person whether men and women has freedom of liberty. It also
violates Article 4 of the Constitution that guarantees that every citizen has
full right to enjoy the protection of the law but in vani practice law don't
support her. It has declared in Supreme Court that vani custom un-Islamic and
unconstitutional under the Constitution of 1973.
Government takes initiative against vani, Like Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan and different NGOs are working against the custom of vani. The Supreme
Court of Pakistan has also taken action of forced marriages in different areas
of parts of Sindh, Punjab and N.W.F.P.
National Judicial Policy making Committee in a meeting announced that vani is
unislamic practice and it must be punished. In 2004 Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's
ex- president, passed law against vani during visit by the US president, George
Bush. But it didn't implement because of laws limited influence in rural areas.
In rural area feudal system is so strong so only 15 vani cases have been tried
under the new law in Mianwali.
In spite of that it is also the duty of local people and specially educated
people that they should come forward and try to eradicate the issue at the gross
root level. In this regard firstly the women should be given the equal status as
the men enjoys in society and for this importance of women education should be
promoted. Secondly the agent of social change e.g education, economy
development, Media etc should be allowed to the rural areas. And lst but not the
least the government should take measure to eradicate the local Jirga or
punchait which is the basic eritint in the way of social change. Let’s perform
our individual and collective duty for eradicating social issues from our
society one by one.
The writer is the student of social science at government college Mansehra.