While the bill against child marriage passed in the Sind Assembly has received a country wide public applause, it is unfortunate that we still continue to act upon a number of stone age customs which destroy the lives of small girls and put their parents in a state of agony and torture. The latest news which appeared in The Nation under the caption ‘Chiniot girl given in Wani’ is a horrifying example of it. As the story goes, a village boy and his girl friend contracted love marriage. Not accepting the marriage without their permission, the girls family wanted their daughter back. Having failed in their efforts they convened a ‘panchayat’ in the village, ironically the ‘panchayat’ members decreed to marry a ‘four years old sister of the groom with 25 years old brother of his wife to settle the love marriage dispute.

What is after all the fault of this 4 years old innocent girl who was being  deprived of the love and care of her parents and given away in Wani to another family, to be treated as a house maid, and face maltreatment, cruelty and injustice of the so called ‘in-laws’ family. Secondly can there be a bigger fool than the 25 years old boy who accepts a baby girl as his wife and has to wait for over a decade to turn her into a real wife? These uncivilized are illiterate the panchayat members, who are uncouth, unwise, ignorant of the present day social norms and customs, not knowing a word about law, but pass judgments which hurt given the lives of innocent people. Who has decreed them as judges?

How long can we continue showing the world how backward we are?. To get a dignified place in the modern world I suggest that the jirga cum panchayat system should be abolished completely. Since our rulers are not brave enough to do so a suitable alternative would be that all their decisions are subject to a review by the legal courts.

RAFI NASIM,

Lahore, May 6.