A. M. Khan
PESHAWAR: The regional office of the Ministry of Human Rights in Peshawar has taken notice of a case of Ghag reported in the jurisdiction of police station University Town, Peshawar on October 17, involving a young Chitrali woman.
According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act 2013, ghag is a custom, tradition or practice whereby a ‘person forcibly demands or claims the hand of a woman without her own or parents’ will and free consent’ by making an open declaration either by ‘words spoken or written’… that a ‘woman shall stand engaged to him that no other man shall make marriage proposal to her or marry her’. Ghag shall also include “awaz”, “noom” or any word or phrase, denoting such declaration by a man to a woman.
According to a letter written by the regional office of Ministry of Human Rights to the director general of the ministry in Islamabad (available with ChitralToday), Israr, son of Jan Afzal of Peshawar, ghaged the young woman from Chitral, who is a fourth semester student at the University in Peshawar.
The letter said she was supposed to be engaged in her own hometown, Chitral, but the accused continued by sending messages and letters to her likely fiancé as a mean of character assassination has caused defamation and likely relationship break.
On October 1, the accused also visited the hometown of the young woman in Chitral and pronounced her ghaged. She was defamed in one way or the other in the area. The woman had no other option but to register an FIR against the accused in the police station of University Town but the culprit has not been arrested so far,” the letter said.
It is also pertinent to mention that a division bench of the Peshawar Hight Court, comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, hearing a petition in a similar case in December, 2017, had observed that “The girl is free and she has the right to marry a man of her own choice. Nobody can seize this fundamental right from a girl”, said the court, referring to the Ghag Act 2013 and added that whoever found using the practice of ghag would be punishable with imprisonment for a term no less than three years may extend to seven years, and a fine of Rs0.5 million or both.