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In Panjsher, elopement cases on the increase

In Panjsher, elopement cases on the increase

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Jun 23, 2018 - 16:10

PARAKH (Pajhwok): At least 21 cases of girls’ running away from their homes have been registered in central Panjsher province. The number shows an increase over last year.

Tahmina Rezaee, an official at the Womeninfo-icon Affairs Department, told Pajhwok Afghan News 21 girls fled homes in Anaba and Hesa-i-Awal districts, as well as the provincial capital, in the first five months of current year.

Six elopement cases had been recorded in the corresponding period last year. However, all of them were resolved, she said, adding there were a host of reasons behind their elopement incidents.

Forced marriage

Rezaee said: “Most families without consultation engaged their daughters or married them forcibly. In such situations, girls are forced to flee homes.”

She said phone contacts were playing a major role in girls’ elopement -- just like domestic violence. About 25 cases of violence against women were registered in Panjsher in 2017.

The incidents included 14 elopement cases and the rest involved beatings and other forms of violence, the official recalled. Most of the girls say forced engagement forced them to run away.

Ahmad Jawad, 23, a resident of the Faraj village of Anaba district, said a girl eloped with him after her family refused his proposal.

“We asked for the girl’s hand for a year, but her family did not accept our proposal. Finally, we were forced into elopement,” the young man said.

He has not yet tied the knot with the girl because of opposition from her family. The girl is currently kept in a tribal elder’s residence.

A 20-year-old girl from Logar province, who did not want to be named, said she had met Jamshed -- a resident of the Bazarak area of Panjsher -- at Kabulinfo-icon University.

She eloped with her classmate Jamshed to Panjsher. “My family wanted to marry me off to an elderly person. So we entered court marriage two months back,” she explained.

Living in elders’ homes

Rezaee called lack of safe houses for girls running away from home one of major challenges in the province. Her department had requested the MoWA many times for a safe house but the problem was yet to be resolved, she complained.

The girls fleeing homes had to stay at elders’ houses until a decision was taken in their cases, she explained.

Abdul Wadood Alimardan, the Parwan governor’s spokesman, also confirmed such cases. Girls from other provinces had eloped with boys from Parwan, he acknowledged.

According to him, a safe house has not been set up in the province so far due to social aversion. Escaped girls are kept in tribal leaders’ homes. He promised a shelter would be created in future.

He said all the girls were not from Panjsher province. A number of them hailed from Logar, Khost, Nangarhar and Ghazni provinces, having fled their homes with Panjsheri boys.He said all the girls were not from Panjsher province. A number of them hailed from Logar, Khost, Nangarhar and Ghazni provinces, having fled their homes with Panjsheri boys.

Problems of girls

Rezaee said under the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Law, elopement aimed at marriage was not considered a crime and such cases were resolved through mediation from the MoWA and elders.

Abdul Habib Fana, a legal expert in Panjsher, held a similar view and said that in some cases, girls’ elopement created social problems including enmity between families.

In some instances, he said, a girl from the boy’s family was offered to rival household as a dispute-settlement mechanism. ‘Bad’ marriage was against the law, he added.

According to Fana, lack of awareness about the girls’ right to marry men of choice is another reason for elopement. He stressed the level of public awareness be raised.

Rezaee also blamed forced marriage for the increasing incidents of girls fleeing homes.

sa/mud

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