By: |Areesha Anwer| (Department of International Relations, University of Karachi)
Doesn’t it sound bizarre if one day a stranger comes to you and asks if you both could live together for the rest of your lives as partners?
Well, astonishingly I am talking about one of the most common norms of our society prevailing since forever – arranged marriage. As children, we were taught not to speak to the strangers and as adults, we are expected to spend the rest of our lives with one.
Once a girl reaches her ‘age of marriage’ – which lies between 20-25, in our dear society, she’s asked to put a full stop to her education, wave goodbye to all her dreams and goals she constructed overtime and get married to a guy she barely knows, most probably by having him seen in the pictures or meeting him once or twice in person. If she refuses to do so, she’s being a burden on her parents and the gossip topic for all the ‘aunties’ in the family.
And God forbid if she dare tell her parents about a guy she wants to get married to, she’s committing a felony and inciting her parents to get her married sooner by their choice of guy shattering all her dreams into tiny little pieces.
Unlike women, the men of our society are not bound by age limit to get married. The male population of our society is supposed to build their careers get married to an unknown girl half her age and settle down but if he is inclined to marry a girl of his choice, he is targeted with emotional torture. Phrases like “marry the person you love over my dead body” are pretty common with sub-continent parents.
And most importantly, if the girl is older than the boy, his choice is denied right away by the same parents who had been teaching him about the greatness of Prophet (peace be upon him) marrying Hazrat Khadija, a woman much older than him.
What basically is the problem with our society? Does our religion forbid love marriage? Is it the part of ‘zinah’ that concerns parents? If that’s the reason then why don’t our parents teach us about its destruction on our lives? Or the words ‘sex’ or ‘adultery’ can’t be discussed as it is another taboo of our society, a topic too audacious to discuss?
From Laila Majnu to a 21st century love story, why are sub-continent parents always against love marriages? Why two lovers are denied their right of marrying and living together? Is the difference in status bothering you or the difference in cast/sect? Is it the word ‘love’ that disgust you or the fact that marriages in our society are not about love anymore? Why do you think so little of love? Why love is only premeditated as sharing bed with your husband? A thousand other questions like this cultivate into my mind, and in the minds of thousand others like me, but the answers to all these questions are and will always remain hazy to all of us.
A society where folklores like Heer-Ranjha, Sussi-Pannu, Sohni-Mahiwal still resides in the hearts of people, yet loves is something very disgraceful to look upon.
We are old enough when it comes to our marriage but we are children when it comes to taking our decisions by ourselves. A decision as big as marriage always remains in the hands of our parents.
Just because you got married that way, does not mean we have to it the same way, time has changed, people have changed, societies have evolved, why are we still stuck at that very moment when all of this begun?
Girls are considered unsafe among the men in our society, she should not go out alone, but why is it completely acceptable to leave her with a stranger on the basis of some signed papers? Are you telling me some papers can buy her safety or that you haven’t heard of the term ‘marital rape’?
The most common words we hear are “get married and you’ll fall in love”. What if I don’t fall in love? What if I still love the one you tore apart from me? What if this hoax you all put me in is one day undeceived? Then what? Would you let me get divorced? Or is it another shameful act to be done? Would you actually care about me or would you confront me with the most disgusting dialogue “what will the society say?” Tell me all this will never happen, but you wouldn’t, would you?
The fact is that we are part of a sick society which is impacting on us day by day making us more sick as the time is passing but don’t you think it’s time to finally change? It’s time that we all respect individual rights; time that all of us accept the realities of life, that all the youngsters of the society grow up and make their own decisions, time to live exactly like all of us once dreamed of, time for children to understand their parents and parents to understand their children, time to live how life is supposed to be lived.
Our parents should know that they have taught us to be independent. And now that we are older, it is time for them to kick us out of the nest and let us find our own wings. They should understand that they have prepared us to fight our own battles, and given us guidance to see from right to wrong.
We deserve their trust, we have proven ourselves worthy. And if we end up regretting our decisions, we will be strong enough to face it.