Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

Forced Marriage: Pakistan’s Dilemma

By Mujtaba Ahmed Qadri

One half of me is yours, the other half yours,
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours. O, these naughty times
Put bars between the owners and their rights!
And so, though yours, not yours.

— The Merchant of Venice 

These golden lines came from the pen of Shakespeare in late 16th Century, depicting a character Portia who was not able to marry a person she liked due to her father’s will. Definitely Shakespeare articulated the environment of 500 years ago. But it seems that the land of Pure “Pakistan”, our beloved country, can still provide more such real stories for the authors to come in future.

Since the independence, as a nation we are still under debate to know the purpose of very existence of our country, should it be liberal or should it be conservative. Under this debate, it seems we lost interest into many aspects of basic human rights which shall be secured under both liberal philosophy or conservative ideology.

One such basic right is to get married with a person of your choice. Marriage has been considered a matter of ultimate sacredness from the known history of mankind. In almost every script, story of Adam and Eve gave us lesson that how God created both of them as companions filled with love. However, being known as the fundamental right to marry the person you like and the call of all religions on same, marriage of one’s own will is still Taboo in land of Pure.

We witness this violation of basic human right on regular basis, ironically, we as society never considered this as a human right violation rather we interpret religious scripts and societal norms in favor if this violation.

We often heard religious clerics stating that the consent of bride and groom for marriage shall be without any pressure, however, children should also consider to obey their parents. These mixed statements from religious clerics never helped to resolve the issue rather provided moral ground for forced decisions.

What? Our daughter/son will go against our will? What about our love or sacrifices for your upbringing? You have forgotten everything for the sake of a girl or boy only?  And the most favorite line which has ruined many lives or dreams “LOG KYA KAHAINGY” You must think about our prestige or honor…… No physical abuse but blackmailing and they had no other choice!!!!  Such mental tortures resulted in forced marriages where a person is supposed to live his/her complete life with a person he/she doesn’t like.

We can witness such events in the most modern urban centers of Pakistan, where, majorly the victims are girls being soft target physically and emotionally. The topic seems much simple, however, it generates much complicated issues for society from within. One of the main issue we have been facing but did very little to eradicate is “Honor Killing”. In 2018 alone, 30 women and 19 men were killed in the name of honor and 14 women committed suicide over domestic dispute. Even in the cases where physical abuse is not witnessed, this leave traces as permanent damage on victims psychological order.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, a Muslim country, the ratio of forced marriages is high as compared to other countries. We have made our daughters and sisters as a source of so-called “Honor”, which can only be enlightened if she follows the orders and not by her achievements.

What we need to understand..

According to Quran, “O! You who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion…” (4:19).

Further, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) stated, “the widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until her order is obtained, and the virgin girl shall not be married until her permission is obtained.” (Shahih Bukhari, 67:42).

Being the followers of the prestigious religion Islam (majority), it is necessary to understand that forced marriages aren’t allowed by Islam and even they are dislike by Allah.

Societal Repercussions..

In Urban Centers, Parents do not only do physical abuse if their daughters go against their will, they torture them mentally which ultimately affect their psychological condition and personality and their life after marriage too. And then how one can become the productive member of the society. Further due to these pressures and unnatural relationships, we are witnessing all time high divorce rates in our country. Among other several reason, one of the major factors is forced marriage, as the marriage holder never able find compatibility as the relation was developed against their own will.

Cases have been recorded, where husband and in laws started physical abuse forcing towards divorce after knowing the force agreement of girl. More devastating, Parents also force to continue the marriage for the sake of their Izzat (honor), or refuse to give her shelter. Such cases may result in suicides attempts. 

Call to Action..

In order to save our future generations, we need to first admit this issue as a major problem and act collaboratively as a society. Laws are already present in country, but, intellectuals need to come up and educate the masses about the seriousness of issue.

Religious clerics shall take clear stand against these severe violations of Islamic orders.

We need to address and fix this issue to save future mothers and fathers from mental and physical disorders who will then definitely reflect the health of generations to come.

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