Swara (custom)

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Swara is a child marriage custom in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is tied to blood feuds among the different tribes and clans where young girls are forcibly married to members of different clans in order to resolve the feuds. It is most common among Pashtuns.

Swara is also known as Sak, Vani and Sangchatti in different regional languages of Pakistan.[1][2][3]


Hashmi and Koukab claim[2] this custom started almost 400 years ago when two northwestern Pakistani Pashtun tribes fought a bloody war against each other. During the war, hundreds were murdered. The Nawab, regional ruler, settled the war by calling a Jirga of elders from both sides. The elders decided that the dispute and crime of men be settled by giving their girls as a retaliatory punishment. Ever since then, tribal and rural jirgas have been using young virgin girls from 4 to 14 years old, through child marriages, to settle crimes such as murder by men. This blood for blood tradition is practiced in different states of Pakistan such as Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Sarhad and tribal areas.

Some scholars[4][5][6] claim the Hudood Ordinance of 1979 by Pakistan government, which made Sharia its prime source of law, as another driver encouraging Swara and Vani.

Related customs[edit]

In Afghanistan, a similar custom is called Ba'ad, sometimes as Sawara.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nasrullah, M., Muazzam, S., Bhutta, Z. A., & Raj, A. (2013). Girl Child Marriage and Its Effect on Fertility in Pakistan: Findings from Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, 2006–2007. Maternal and child health journal, pp 1-10
  2. ^ a b Vani a social evil Anwar Hashmi and Rifat Koukab, The Fact (Pakistan), (July 2004)
  3. ^ Ahsan, I. (2009). PANCHAYATS AND JIRGAS (LOK ADALATS): Alternative Dispute Resolution System in Pakistan. Strengthening Governance Through Access To Justice
  4. ^ Saeed, R. R. (2004). Women status in Pakistan under customs and values& the controversial hudood ordinance 1979
  5. ^ Shamsie, M. (2002). A matter of dishonour. Index on Censorship, 31(4), pp 191-195
  6. ^ Khouri, N. (2007). Human Rights and Islam: Lessons from Amina Lawal and Mukhtar Mai. Geo. J. Gender & L., 8, 93.
  7. ^ TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING PUKHTOON JIRGA Hassan M. Yousufzai & Ali Gohar, Fresno University, ISBN 969-8931-00-7
  8. ^ Alissa Rubin, For Punishment of Elder’s Misdeeds, Afghan Girl Pays the Price, New York Times, February 16, 2012

External links[edit]