For 36-year-old Wazir Ahmed, his daughter reaching puberty was not a milestone on her journey to adulthood, but an upgrade for himself. He gave her away to Ramzan, and took Ramzan’s sister Saima as his second wife.
In some parts of Pakistan, which are very orthodox, a bride for a bride is a common practice. As the daughter of Wazir Ahmed (36) reached puberty, it was the time for him to get a new bride, as he gave his daughter to Ramzan and got Saima, Ramzan’s sister as his second wife.
This practice is known as “Watta Satta” which means give and take. The girls in these regions are given for settling the debts, disputes or for giving birth to a boy child for a male whose previous wives were not able to give birth to a boy.
Those who are practicing Watta Satta say that it is under the law of Islam and nothing is wrong in practicing it. However, Wazir and Ramzan were taken into custody for breaking the law of legal age of marriage (16) but later they were released as Saima declared that she was 16. As per Saima’s mother Janaat, it is a necessity for them. In her words,
Watta satta involves the simultaneous marriage of a brother-sister pair from two households. In some cases, it involves uncle-niece pairs, or cousin pairs.This type of marriage in Pakistan is typically endogamous, with over 75% marriages involving blood relatives, and 90% of the watta satta marriages occurring within the same village, tribe or clan (jaat, biraderi).
In rural parts of Pakistan, watta satta accounts for over 30% of all marriages. Watta satta is more than just an exchange of women from two families or clans; it establishes the shadow of mutual threat across the marriages. A husband who abuses his wife in this arrangement can expect his brother-in-law to retaliate in-kind against his sister. Watta satta is cited as a cause of both low domestic violence in some families, and conversely for extreme levels of reciprocal domestic violence in others.