Lahore—Police rescued a nine-year-old girl from being married off to a 14-year-old boy to settle a family dispute on Friday and arrested four village elders who had ordered the “compensation wedding”.
Police arrested all four members of the village council who had decreed that the girl be given in vani, or compensation marriage, to settle a dispute between two families in Rahim Yar Khan District.
“The girl’s brother’s wife had died due to some health problems a few weeks ago, and (the wife’s) relatives suspected foul play and accused her family of murder,” deputy superintendent of police Mamoonur Rasheed said.
“On March 3, the village council decided to give the little girl in vani to settle the suspected murder.” The council decided that the girl would be married to a 14-year-old cousin of her brother’s deceased wife, while the brother would pay 150,000 rupees to his dead wife’s family.
Three per cent of girls in Pakistan are married before they turn 15 and 21 per cent before the age of 18, according to UNICEF data. The parents of child brides are often poor and use marriage as a way to provide for their daughter’s future, especially in areas where there are few economic opportunities for women.