Forced Marriage: Girl Files against Centuries-Old Oppressive Custom of 'Ghag'

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Saturday, 30 May 2015 16:26

PESHAWAR: After knocking at several doors and getting no help, a family has approached Peshawar High Court to save their daughter from becoming victim to the centuries-old oppressive custom of Ghag and be forced to marry against her will. 

Daulat Khan, a resident of Jamrud, Khyber Agency, has filed a petition in court through his counsel Muhammad Isa Khan requesting that the custom practised in the tribal areas be declared illegal. As per Ghag, a man can claim the right to marry any woman of his choice without her consent. The custom has been declared a criminal offence in K-P under the Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act 2013.

In his petition, Daulat has made Khyber residents Galas Khan, Janas Khan and Sadeeq respondents as well as government officials, including the political agent and Peshawar commissioner.

According to Daulat, his daughter Noornama is the administrator of a madressah in Jamrud and a few years ago three locals (named in the petition) invoked the Ghag custom and laid claim to her saying no man other than Sadeeq would marry her.

Daulat said he approached a local jirga against the men’s claim and it decided in his favour on October 21, 2010. Later, Daulat also approached Jamia Imdadul Uloom Islamia in Peshawar Cantonment to obtain Islamic perspective on the matter. The father said Mufti Muhammad Usman opined on March 8, 2014 that  a nikah against the girl’s will is not legal. However, the three respondents did not take back their announcement which prompted Daulat to approach the political agent and FATA Secretariat but to no avail.

“As per Ghag, Noornama is restrained from contracting marriage elsewhere at her will and free consent. If not rescued she will have to either marry Sadeeq unwillingly or live the rest of her life sans a marital tie,” the petition reads.

It further states the claim made on Daulat’s daughter is against basic human rights and several articles of the Constitution. It is also against Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elimination of Customs of Ghag Act 2013, according to which Ghag is a punishable offence.

It is a matter of the fundamental rights of a family and most particularly of the girl, the petition reads.

It adds the court is requested to declare Ghag illegal, unlawful and un-Islamic and having no legal effect. The court was also requested to issue directives to the government to make appropriate laws to abolish Ghagin tribal areas.

The family also requested for security during the hearing of the petition.

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