A 6-year-old child in the mountainous area of Ashari, Pakistan, is being used as coin by town elders. Bibi Roza is to be married on November 11, to settle a feud between two families.
Tribesmen called a meeting, or jirga, to determine how to appease the two households. It is tradition for tribe elders to order the exchange of land, money or livestock, to settle an argument, however, this time, it was Bibi that was offered, for marriage.
According to RFERL, if they were to refuse, her family would be outcast and the others would have the right to retaliate, even violently. Azim Khan, Bibi's father, has plead with the elders incessantly for a reversal, to no avail.
“They [the jirga members] are telling us: 'You agreed with the authorities in Ashari to marry your daughter into the other family. You have no other option.' [...] Yes, I agreed. But the police officers forced me to agree. They are saying that she will be married this Sunday [November 11]. I have pleaded with them that I cannot let her marry,” Khan says.
65-year-old Khan went to the police to present the matter. Shah Dauran, local police chief in Ashari, refused to interfere with jirga rulings, but he placed the 16-year-old groom's father under arrest, along with a member of the town assembly.
An inquiry into the marriage, performed after Roza's family urged the government to intervene, lead to a trial, in which Saidu Sharif town court dubbed the jirga’s decision illegal. As a result, a total of three jirga members, the groom and his father now find themselves behind bars, in connection to the case.
“The other family wants this innocent child to observe the custom of swara. The elders have ruled that she must marry on Sunday. I have pleaded with them that she is only a child. I said, 'Don't take her away, she's only 6 years old.' All Muslims need to think about this. I have asked the government to help us so she can stay home, because she is only a minor,” Bibi's mother explains.