25 December, 2010

Swara’ criminals must be dealt with iron hand

Sana Jamal
Islamabad—“Neither Quran nor the law of the land allows brutal customs such as Swara under any condition” Justice Fakhrunisa noted at a seminar here Thursday. The seminar held at a local hotel on Thursday at the end of the two-year project of Rahnuma, affiliated with Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) with the aim to sensitize people against the barbaric custom of ‘Swara’.

Dr. Anjum in her introductory remark said “Sawara is a custom of marriage as compensation which takes place between two families to end a family feud. The innocent girl who is only four or five years old is handed over to the enemies so their men folk who have committed the crime can escape punishment.”

Around ten young women came from Swabi and Mardan, two cities in KPK to tell their horrifying tales at the experience sharing seminar of FPAP.
“My husband, the man I was given to in Swara sold three of my daughters that he had sired. He wanted to sell my boys next and would beat me regularly for resisting prostitution” said Saba (pseudonym) sharing her story. Her terrible story brought tears to the eyes of many and awareness among few about this brutal custom called ‘Swara’.

FPAP “provide reproductive health services to ill-treated women” added Dr. Anjum. FPAP project has served 30,000 communities and has worked in 30 union councils of the two cities. Gathering support of religious leaders of the relevant communities and the establishment of advisory committees including government, civil and religious member were the two major achievements of the project.

“Swara criminals should be countered with iron hand and through strict laws” said Justice Fakhrunisa addressing the gathering. She proposed that “women empowerment, awareness among women and equal employment opportunities should be provided to the victims.”

Prof. Izhaar-ul-haq, a religious scholar was greatly moved by the stories of the survivors. “It was in fact the responsibility of Ulema to stop such cruel customs” as the “crime of one can never be justified by punishing someone else” he said quoting a verse from Quran.

“Some communities in Pakistan settle scores by taking revenge to maintain their honour. Daughters and sisters are given away to resolve conflicts and prevent bloodshed’ said a report on ‘Pakhtunwali (the native unwritten law practiced by Pashtuns). This custom is not peculiar to the Pashtuns alone, In Baluchistan, Central Punjab and Sindh, identical customs exist in the form of ‘Khoon Baha’, ‘Mayar’ and ‘Vani’ are practiced.

Surraya Jabeen, President of FPAP also spoke on the occasion highlighting the noteworthy efforts of the orgaziation. Syed Kamal Shah CEO of FPAP made an appeal to the donor community for their support to continue work in extended areas.