Pakistani Man Ordered to Marry Off Young Niece as Punishment for His Adultery
February 21, 2005
The Sun Newspapers, Canada
MULTAN, PAKISTAN (AP)—A Pakistan
village council has punished a 20-year-old man for adultery by ordering the
betrothal of his two-year-old niece to the husband of the woman with whom he
had the alleged affair, police said on Monday.
Tribal elders meeting last week also ordered Mohammed
Akmal to pay a 230,000-rupee ($4,782 Cdn) fine to the woman’s husband, who
has since divorced his wife.
Police said that the council in Kacha Chohan village,
about 350 kilometres west of Punjab province’s major city of Multan, decreed
that the two-year-old girl would be married to Mohammed Altaf when she turns
Altaf, a 42-year-old farmer, divorced his 32-year-old
wife over her alleged love affair with Akmal, and then asked elders to convene
the panchayat, or council, on Feb. 15 to arbitrate in the dispute and propose
Akmal, a bachelor and also a farmer, is Altaf’s cousin
and has no children.
Area police chief Maqsoodul Hassan said officers have
started an investigation, but had made no arrests because no one had filed a
None of the parties to the dispute could be reached for
comment Monday. Their Mazari tribal village has no telephone service.
Rashid Rahman, a lawyer and Multan-based co-ordinator
with the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, condemned the
village council’s decision.
“These types of panchayats are illegal and nobody has
the right to take a decision about a child’s life,” he said. “This
country has its legal system and all decisions should be taken under it.”
He said that the betrothal of a minor did not break the
law—but that forcing a woman to marry against her will carries a maximum
14-year jail sentence. Underage marriage, also illegal, is only punishable by
Village councils in conservative rural parts of Pakistan
traditionally rule on local disputes, such as when a family’s “honour”
is purportedly besmirched by allegations of love affairs. The councils can
dictate harsh—and sometimes illegal—punishments.
In 2002, another village council near Multan ordered a
woman to be gang-raped as punishment for her brother’s sexual relations with
A court later convicted six men who perpetrated the rape
and sentenced them to death. They are appealing their sentences.
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