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Five Pakistani girls saved from blood-feud deal

Written by: Staff

KARACHI, June 13 (Reuters) Authorities in Pakistan have stopped five girls being forcibly given away in marriage as compensation for a double murder nine years ago, a government spokesman said today.

Although the Pakistani government says it promotes the rights of women, it is still common in rural areas, where feudal and tribal ways hold sway, for girls to be given as compensation to settle disputes.

A council of elders in a village in Sindh province decided last week the girls, aged between five and 10, should be handed over to another family to make up for the 1997 killing of a man and woman by some members of their family.

The girls would have been given away in marriage once they reached puberty.

But a human rights activist brought the ruling by the traditional village council, known as a jirga, to the attention of the provincial government.

The chief minister of Sindh had ordered annulment of the council's decision and launched an investigation, government spokesman Salahuddin Haider said.

''The government does not recognise this decision and does not support the exchange of innocent girls as compensation,'' he said.

Reuters SHB GC2059

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