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Girl, 9 forced to marry older man as 'compensation' in Pakistani rape case

Credits: REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

QMI AGENCY

Pakistani elders have ruled a nine-year-old girl must marry a 22-year-old man as compensation to settle the case of the rape and abduction of another young girl.

Five men in the rural village of Bahalak in Punjab province were arrested for the abduction and rape of a wealthy landowner's daughter.

As compensation, one of the men - a farm worker named Arshad - was ordered to offer his nine-year-old daughter to marry the landowner's adult son.

"The jury on Sunday decreed that Arshad would marry (off) his daughter Sidra to Ali Sher's 22-year-old son Maqsood," local police station chief Mohammad Khalid told AFP. "Arshad agreed verbally but Sidra, who is too young, remains with her family."

Legal marriage age in Pakistan is 18 for men and 16 for girls, and "vani," the practice of giving daughters as compensation, is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in prison.

But vani and child marriage are still practised in some rural areas. In these cases, the children are usually wed then returned to their families until puberty.

The oppression of women is a major issue in Pakistan. Last week a couple in Pakistan-administered Kashmir doused their 15-year-old daughter with acid and killed her for looking at boys.

In 2002, a divorced seamstress Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped by 14 men on the orders of her village council, because of allegations against her 12-year-old brother.

When she challenged her alleged rapists in court, she ended up in a nine-year legal battle that eventually saw all but one of the accused walk free.

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