As a society we do not talk about such topics, nor is it allowed to be discussed in backward societies. It is important to put an end to such an outdated ritual that is still alive today and this ritual is generally considered common in the villages. I approached a lot of women who were victimized by this ritual (child marriage, Vani and Euza) but they flatly refused to talk about it. Maybe they didn’t have that much courage or they were afraid to reveal their names.
However, a 40-year-old woman and another young girl told their own story on condition of anonymity. Rehana Bibi (pseudonym) did not even visit the primary school, although she had studied the Qur’an from local mosque. As soon as She was young, She was locked in the wall because of the conservative environment. She is about 24 years old and hails from a village in southern Punjab. Rehana Bibi says that when I was born, my parents married me to a cousin, and this was done because my brother had married the sister of my future husband, whose reward I was made in return.
Ever since I was a child, I have heard that you are very lucky to be the fiance of a brother of your sister in law in exchange for your brother. But my sister-in-law died shortly after marriage. This incident created a wall of hatred between our families. But, despite all that, I didn’t mind the relationship because I had no other choice. I thought that now I am the only way to put out the fire of hatred in our families because when I get married things will be fine. But it turned out to be my delusion, the boy and his family repeatedly came to my parents to ask for a marriage but they were refused.
Then ‘My fiance got married in another place and now he is the father of three children. But, like a widow, I began to burn the virgin in the fuel of marriage. Now Nobody would come forward to accept me as a wife because all the villagers knew that I was committed with someone . Even if i will get divorce from the court, I will still not be able to get married because some people told Baba that you should divorce your daughter through reconciliation with the boys. Then we will accept your daughter’s proposal but Baba is not ready to go to the boys house and boy is not willing to divorce me as well. Now I just pray every day that I will get rid of this problem now, otherwise i have to pass my whole life as a widow.
Bakhto Mai (pseudonym) is quite illiterate and is over forty years old. She belongs to a village in Dera Ismail Khan district. Her husband with whom She has been committed since twenty years is now enjoying his life with another woman. “My brother Qasim (pseudonym) had an affair with a girl, she was my neighbour. But the matter disclosed in front of both families. When the matter came forward, leaders of village finally reached a settlement between the two parties to settle the issue, under which I was married (Vani) to my sister in law’s brother as punishment for my brother’s sin. Everyone in the house was happy that our enmity was over, I was also happy that my sacrifice saved my brother’s life. But what happened next was not even in my mind.
Bakhtu Mai said, a question always came to my mind that after marriage people would taunt that I was given in return for my brother’s dirty deeds. I couldn’t have imagined that I would spend my life as a widow despite being married. My family members went to him to settle things but he flatly refused saying that you had ruined our honor but now this disgrace is enough for you for the rest of your life. Then I also compromised with all the circumstances considering it my fate. I don’t have my own house so I live with my brothers. And I do various household chores, including feeding their livestock, which is a normal part of a rural woman’s life.
If the question arises in the minds of the readers that this is a matter of two decades ago, remember, these rituals are still alive today. Recently, a brother from the village called to me and told me about an incident that our own close relatives were marrying a few months old girl to another innocent child. As soon as I heard this, I started shivering. I immediately went to the village, stopped this ignorant ritual from happening at the right time and told them that it is not correct in any way because we had many such examples before us.
Why would someone marry the girls who were married in their childhood, because they are bound in the marriage of another man in the form of Vani etc. Which is totally illegal in terms of law and sharia.
Islamic teachings are clear in this regard but the Islamic preachers of villages do not inform the people about these issues so that their foggy water continues to flow. On the other hand, the bill passed in the name of Child Marriage Act in 2018 explained the marriage of a boy and a girl under 18 years of age is a serious crime, while the fact is that the villagers also marry children under 12 years of age and that they marry by 12 years old girl and prove it 18 years old in NADRA. This avoids any legal action. There is an urgent need to further clarify the Child Act enacted in 2018 through re-amendment. So that not only marriage of any boy or girl is possible before 18 years (correct age) but also complete ban on marriage and engagement of underage children.
Meanwhile, registration of date of birth should be made mandatory in NADRA on the birth of children, so that the exact age of each child could be determined. Only then we be able to take full advantage of the Child Marriage Act. Otherwise, child marriage will continue to ruin the lives of many women for a long period of time. Because a man can get married for the second, third and fourth time, but only innocent girls and rural women cannot even speak out against this oppression for fear of their lives and dignity. Therefore, the government is requested to make a permanent legislation in this regard so that such things can be prevented.