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Forced Marriages of Eight Girls in Pakistan
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Forced marriages of eight girls causes outrage in Pakistan

Four men convicted of murder in Pakistan agreed to marry eight young female relatives to the men of the victims' family to settle the blood debt.

But national outrage over the number and ages of the girls - including one as young as five - being offered to men old enough to be their great-grandfathers, forced the families to cancel the arrangement under traditional law.

And now, the four men again face execution.

"It is quite common in the area to marry daughters to the family of someone you wrong. But usually the ages of the girl and the man are taken into consideration," said Mohammed Asad Malik, son of a former governor of Punjab province, where their village, Musakhen, is located.

The four men, who came from the same family, were convicted and sentenced to hang for the 1988 murder of two men from another family in Musakhen, 140 miles southwest of Islamabad. Both families share the same last name, Khan.

Under the deal, the girls were offered in exchange for an agreement to release their male relatives. While the death sentences were handed down by a Pakistani court, the country's Islamic law stipulates the victim's family can ask for clemency.

In addition to the girls, the family of the two murdered men received "blood money" worth 80,000, Mr Malik said.

Local officials said one girl was the daughter of one of the condemned men and the others were nieces, cousins or other relatives.

The five-year-old was not to have been married until she was older, according to Mr Malik and other villagers. Another of the proposed matches coupled an 18-year-old woman with an 80-year-old man.

Mohammed Babar, assistant superintendent of the jail where the convicted men are held, said no execution date had been set. Other officials said the four could still be spared the gallows if the families work out another, less controversial, arrangement for settling the blood debt.