A minor girl in Swat forcibly married a 70-year-old man. Accused arrested

In the Nagoha area of Barikot Tehsil, Swat district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a disturbing event unfolded as a 70-year-old man was wed to a 13-year-old girl. This man, a father of eight and a grandfather to many, is now facing legal consequences along with four others, including the young girl’s parents and two witnesses.

The young girl, who is only in the sixth grade, disclosed that she was unaware of the arranged marriage until she was home from school. “Upon arriving home, I was told to prepare for what they described as a special event,” she shared. Profoundly unaware of the implications of marriage, she expressed her resolve, stating, “I don’t understand what marriage entails. I refuse to accept this man as my husband.”

Authorities have acted, with the registrar issuing a marriage certificate bearing witness signatures, while the police detained the involved parties. Despite the groom’s obtaining pre-arrest bail from the court, the District Police Officer Dr. Zahidullah asserted that marrying a minor is a criminal act and those responsible would face prosecution.

Tabassum Adnan, chairperson of a local jirga advocating for women’s rights, commented on the increasing trend of underage marriages in the region, emphasizing the urgent need for stringent laws to halt these violations. “The act of an elderly man marrying a young girl is not only unlawful but deeply unjust. What future awaits this girl should her elderly husband pass away? Is she to be remarried to yet another elderly individual?” she questioned.

Amidst these troubling circumstances, Peshawar High Court lawyer Asadur Rahman highlighted the lack of a definitive legal framework addressing child marriage in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, indicating a critical gap in the protection of children’s rights in the region.

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