A court in Pakistan has ruled that a decision by village elders to marry a 6-year-old girl to settle a family feud is illegal. In 2004, Parliament made the customary practice of “swara,” solving a feud by the exchange of women and girls, a crime punishable by three years in prison. However, the practice remains common in remote areas. Police intervention is rare, but in this case the police have made 5 arrests - 3 members of the council of elders, or “jirga,” the 16-year-old boy who was to marry the girl, and his father, members of the rival family.
The girl’s father had pleaded for the jirga to reconsider its ruling. He fears bloodshed between the families if he continues to refuse to allow his child to marry.