Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Women, up for sale.

how girls are exploited in the name of marriage.

One of the most important issues in my part of the world is getting married. And if you are a girl, oh my days, you were born to get married more than anything else!

One of the most important issues in my part of the world is getting married. And if you are a girl, oh my days, you were born to get married more than anything else!

A friend of mine, Sidra, had two elder sisters- the eldest was a typical bollywood beauty, second one had pretty English features and Sidra (I thought) had perfect supermodel looks. We had just finished our O level and entered into our A level days when Sidra started staying depressed all the time. Why? Because her parents were depressed all the time. Why? Because she had turned 17 and she was still not married. Being seventeen was considered being a rustbucket in her family. Both her elder sisters got married when they were 15 and 16. Infact the eldest was six-months pregnant when she appeared for her O Level exams.And since Sidra had now crossed her ‘potential age’ of getting the proposals, her parents were worried about the poor daughter who’s life was in deep shit since she could not get married ‘on time’. Thus they made her life a living penalty by venting all the time and complaining that probably she was ugly that’s why nobody wanted her to get married to their sons blah blah blah. This was a reflection of a rich part of the society. (P.S. I am 22 and unmarried; I wonder what her family has to say about me)

Here’s an example of a poor family: A girl I know (was raised by a single mother and) was made to get engaged with this guy (I happen to know him too). Arranged marriages are a norm in our part of the society so basically there was no chance that this girl could say no to the proposal. Not that she wasn’t happy as the guy belonged to a relatively well earning background .The engagement was dragged up to six whole years after which the guy woke up deciding he was no more interested in that girl who had been waiting for years to get married to him. What happens next? His family breaks the ties with the girl leaving her sobbing over her ill-luck. What does the guy do next? Finds a ‘better-match’ and gets hooked up with her. And what happens to the girl? She was left taking care of her mother who became a heart patient because of the harsh blow. It’s been five years to the break up now. She gets no proposals till date because some guy abandoned her after six long years of engagement. And what happened with that ‘some guy’? He is married; and has a son.

Girls cry if they don’t get married ‘on time’. Others keep crying if their daughters aren’t getting proposals. For these people there’s no life beyond getting married. This frustrates me. While I certainly don’t deny marriage can be a beautiful experience, I certainly can not give all my chips in its favor. Marriages can be a disaster and can prove to be psychologically fatal for a being. Especially the kinds that happen here (mostly) where the girl knows jack about her husband-to-be but feels honored and delighted for getting married to him. Why? Because she has been mentally fed this way from the very time she transformed into a girl from a kid. I hate such mothers who destroy the individuality of young girls merely for the greed of them getting married. Every other mother you talk to will tell you she teaches her daughter to compromise at every step; hardly any ‘compromise lessons’ are given to any of the men. That’s hypocrisy to me and that’s what fumes me.

The typical process of getting a proposal and getting married is one where a girl’s self-esteem, eccentricity and personality are slaughtered with utmost diligence and finesse. If a family comes to see you as to speculate whether or not you are fit for their son, you will be asked to smile, frown, laugh, walk, drink, eat, take your shawl on your head, take it off from your head and thoroughly scrutinized from head to toe as if you are not a human with feelings and emotions but yet another item in an industry of mass production. And a girl is not to feel bad or mind any part of the entire scrutiny. God Forbid, if she speaks up saying she can not laugh on demand, walk on an order or take off her shawl on being commanded, her mother’s bombarded with ‘okai so you forgot to teach her some manners’, ‘this way your daughter will be left unmarried her entire life’ and the likes.

I know dozens of women who feel like a failure only because there was no family and no guy to accept them for who they are. They feel dejected and rejected because they were a little dark, a little short, a bit fat, with small eyes (etc etc) for all those mothers who were out there shopping for their sons. In this apparent pursuit they completely failed to notice an array of beautiful personalities…thus crushing them under the weight of an immortal insecurity, and undying sense of depression which they are never able to cope up with.

My question goes out not to the mothers of those sons but to the parents of those daughters, who failed to deliver the idea to their daughters that life is much much more than being selected to be a part of someone else’s family. Life is not just about being accepted or rejected; it’s about making a mark of your own and finding your true self instead of losing your identity in the race of being picked up by a family to get married to their son. When will people change their frame of mind and start taking their daughters to be souls of substance rather than mere beautiful bodies? When will people start inducing in the minds of their daughters, the motives and goals that go way beyond the petty idea of getting married? When will the people realize they are killing their daughters silently..?? I hope all these realizations make their way soon. Till then I will continue to wait with fury.

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SZU is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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8 comments on Women, up for sale.

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By Theresa H Hall on October 09, 2010 at 05:46 am

Last Sunday, our priest said, "The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference". This is the word that comes to mind when I read stories about the cultures that force their women into these arranged marriages, who teach their girls this is all they are good for and then who berate them and brow-beat them.

People need to change their way of thinking about women. It is about time.

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By Angie Alaniz on October 10, 2010 at 12:45 am

SZU - I have always felt badly for any couples who have arranged marriages and especially for the women who are made to believe they are worthless unless they are wed at an early age. It is very hard to believe this is still happening in this day and age. I applaud you for standing up for them and being a strong voice as you are.

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By Libdrone on October 10, 2010 at 02:09 am


I have read some books about the plight of women in your part of the world. My heart goes out to all women who find themselves trapped in cultural traditions that fail to address their unique individual needs. Great post.

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By SZU on October 12, 2010 at 01:41 am

Theresa- Please convey to your priest that a girl in Pakistan thinks just the way he does. A complete change will take time, but I believe it should begin already.

Melody- that's right. The world may progress in terms of science, arts and technology but none of them is a gurantee to show a progress within their souls and minds.

Angie- I am not totally against arranged marriages; provided the girl and the guy both agree to it with all their heart and soul and are given ample time to get to know each other and decide on their own as to whether they are up for this relationship or not. What I don't like is the 'dictating policy' that many parents adopt as if its their marriage and not their girl's. I hate it when girls are belittled for not getting married at an early age and I want to do so much more for the cause than just writing it down on a screen...

Libdrone- thankyou =)

Cher- Thankyou for reading it!

Dean- That's right , freedom's just another word for nothing left to loose. Perhaps that way nobody will ever be able to attain it :)

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By Lady D on October 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Knowledge is power, spread the knowledge that will help women to love themselves.

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By SZU on October 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Lady D-

The issue lies in the definition of 'love' itself. Do you think mothers and families put their daughters under such pressure out of hatred or for the sake of punishment? No. They do it out of 'love'. For them love is to make sure their daughters have a 'secure' future.

For many girls the idea of 'loving themselves' is dependent on the idea of being romanticized, protected and comforted by a man (husband).

But I still agree with you...what they need to be educated about is that there are many other dimesnsions to their personlity and identity which they haven't yet explored.

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By Frank - icare2be on November 01, 2010 at 11:21 pm

@Szu I hope and pray you are correct that you see the beginning of an end to the process of arranged marriage without the consent of the parties. For centuries parents made alliances bartering their daughters as a way to improve the families finances or to provide a secure future for their child. As in the case you mention the parents felt like failures if they did not procure a marriage. They are doing out of love and life as they were brought up to believe. Our hope is in the children that as they grow older this tradition will stop.

Thank you for a very enlightening article.

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By MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE on November 10, 2010 at 01:50 am

Szu, getting married is a good thing. However, not all marriages are signs of love or last long. I think it is wise not to hurry for marriage, sit and think twice. Who is marrying me, this is what majority of girls never think of before they can decide. For those who involve in arranged marriage, they mostly go through lots of troubles since the choice was not theirs but someone's else. Girls need to be informed deeply about the real meaning of love and marriage and this can move them toward freedom in choice. That is why the South African Singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka sang ' Freedom, I cry for Freedom'. Girls need it to make their own consent as on who will marry them, and even the age to get married. No reason to hurry. Better think twice, look ahead before you leap.

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