When I describe this despicable system of justice that is still practiced in Pakistan, you will wonder if these people really exist in this day and age. Well this is what 'sawara' is. When two villages in some parts of the tribal area get involved in a feud; they wage battles, raids, etc against each other. At some point elders of both the villages or elders of other tribes may step in and decide to settle the dispute and stop the feud. The meeting of the elders is called a Jirga. The Jirga listens to both the sides and decides who is to blame for starting the feud.
The village or tribe that started the dispute is asked to give sawara to the village or tribe against whom they went into battle. This implies that the guilty village has to give a girl to the village that they have harmed. Generally a teenage girl is selected to be given as punishment. The girl is then taken to the village and given a hovel to live in. She has to provide sexual services to the men of the village. She is an outcast in the village and treated like a pariah. She has to exist on whatever the villagers provide and she cannot deny providing sexual services to any male, young or adult or old who comes to her hovel.
This poor creature who has done no harm nor was involved in the dispute becomes an outcast. If she bears any children, tough luck to her, and they are also shunned like she is.
Have any of you ever heard or imagined that such a despicable system would be prevailing in any corner of the globe. Well it does in Pakistan and no government or law enforcement agency has ever taken any action against stopping this evil practice. There is just one NGO that tries to rescue these poor creatures. Generally they have to pay head money to buy the women. But after the experience of these women they are in such a state of shock that it takes years for them to adjust in society.
By Zafar Ihsan