Vani is a Pakistani tradition involving trading girls to settle disputes between families. It was outlawed in 2004, but persists in areas where Islam is held to most fervently — perhaps because Islamic texts and teachings reinforce the idea that women are mere chattel. “Cleric among 10 held in vani case,” from The News International, January 4 (thanks to Sr. Soph):
MANSEHRA: Police have arrested 10 people including a cleric for being part of a jirga that declared two girls vani in Siran valley, an official said on Sunday.
Mohammad Ayub, father of the vani, Nazi Bibi, was arrested late Saturday and nine jirga members and a cleric Shamsur Rehman were arrested two days back. The jirga members were arrested for declaring two minor girls vani to resolve a marriage dispute. A jirga at Sathan Galli area had declared two girls, Nazi Bibi, 9 and Noreen Bibi, 3, vani last month.
Sources said uncle of the girls, Mohammad Mehboob, and a girl had married on their free will. Taking up the issue, the jirga had given the hand of Nazi Bibi in marriage to a married man Hassan Dar and Noreen Bibi to Mohammad Yasir in marriage. Besides the family paid an amount of Rs0.2 million as compensation to father of Rukhtaj, the girl who had contracted marriage without the consent of her family.
Prior to his arrest, Mohammad Ayub told this correspondent that he wasn’t ready to hand over his daughter as vani but was forced to do so by the rival party. Sardar Ajmal, station house officer of Battal police, said declaring a minor girl as vani was repugnant to existing laws of the country and all the jirga members would be taken to task for the crime. He said that so far 10 people including the cleric and father of Nazi Bibi had been arrested and raids were being conducted to arrest the remaining ones.