Pakistani girl, 9, awarded as 'compensation' in dispute

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Police in Pakistan have arrested five men after a village council ordered a father to hand over his nine-year-old daughter as compensation in a rape case, officers said Friday.

A group of elders in the remote rural area of Bahalak in Punjab province made the ruling to settle a year-long dispute between a farm worker and an influential local landowner, local police station chief Mohammad Khalid told AFP.

The worker, Arshad, who goes by one name, was accused of involvement in the abduction and rape of landowner Ali Sher's daughter, Khalid said.

"The jury on Sunday decreed that Arshad would marry (off) his daughter Sidra to Ali Sher's 22-year old son Maqsood," he explained.

"Arshad agreed verbally but Sidra, who is too young, remains with her family," he said.

The marriage was not formally solemnised but the village council made Arshad agree to pay Sher 400,000 rupees ($4,000) -- a vast sum for a farm labourer in Pakistan -- if he did not honour the ruling.

Khalid said Arshad and four council members had been arrested.

The practice of "vani", giving daughters as compensation to end vendettas, is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in jail.

Pakistan is a deeply conservative country and women, especially in poor rural areas, enjoy few rights and little protection from the police.

Last week a couple in Pakistan-administered Kashmir killed their 15-year-old daughter by dousing her with acid for supposedly shaming the family by looking at two boys.

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