Stories about dowry

Madiha’s only crime was that she was unable to bring a motorbike in her dowry

Madiha was a 22-year-old girl in Gujranwala who had just gotten married. You know how it is for newly-wed girls; the apprehension, the stress of adjusting to a new home, the worries about making everyone like you and leaving your family behind. For Madiha, these worries became small compared to the horror she ended up facing. Her husband, Amir, would beat her regularly. Madiha’s crime? She was unable to bring a motorbike for Amir in her dowry. Two months or so after the wedding, Amir and his family doused Madiha with petrol and set her on fire. She died within ...

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Why marriage is not for everyone

There are more routes to happiness than those identified by the social majority. It is time we acknowledge that not all of these routes transit through the terminal of marriage. Any discussion on whether a certain custom is right for you, must begin with an honest recognition of your primary goal. The goal is your happiness and prosperity, and nothing that any parent, uncle, aunty, friend has to say about it has any agency over your own awareness of what brings you contentment. Their counsel may be wise and worthy, but they have the disadvantage of not knowing you the way you might ...

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When women talk, men are heard – but hopefully not for long

India’s daughters have long been discriminated against. They are taught to be subservient, docile, and self-sacrificing and the whole social structure is designed to keep them suppressed. The parents of girls take it for granted that they have to pay for dowry and carry the burden of a lavish wedding where the groom’s family can make unreasonable demands and expect them to be fulfilled. No questions asked. It is also considered normal that the girl will give up everything to go live with and serve her husband’s family. With such thoughts so deeply embedded in the social psyche, it is no ...

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I refused a marriage proposal because they demanded dowry

The notion of dowry has always been rampant in Pakistani society. Ironically, it’s been adapted from Indian culture. Living together in the subcontinent encouraged us to adopt each other’s customs, and eventually, they became a part of ours. Now, we are so deep into this mixed culture that we have forgotten there’s a fine line between culture and religion. We fail to realise that dowry is not approbated by Islam. When given the factual argument that Islam sets no example of dowry, the dowry mongers are left with no other argument. All they have to say is, “Baaki jaghon pe tou Islam yaad nahin aata.” (When it comes to other things ...

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It’s not easy being a female divorcee, especially in Pakistan

I happened to have an incredibly appalling conversation with a male friend the other day. It pretty much went like this; “Hey did you end up finding a girl for yourself?” “Yeah, I did, but I ended up rejecting the proposal. She was divorced and seemed quite sharp.” But, to my surprise, his response didn’t really shock me. Even so, his comments still ring in my head. I was amazed at how an educated and sensible man like him could pass such a judgement. Unfortunately, we’ve been moulded to think divorced women are off limits. They just don’t stand a chance in the ‘marriage market’ ...

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I was never his wife, I was only his slave

“I maybe from a  third world country but I have a heart like you do, emotions like you have, and dreams to pursue. On my first Eid as a married girl, I wanted to dress up and celebrate my new beginning instead of being in a hospital bed recovering from the effects of abuse.” I got married in March 2014 in Chicago with dreams of starting a new life and a future built out on love and trust in my new home. My parents were so assured that they were giving me into the hands of an educated guy; someone who ...

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Are Pakistani brides actually ready to pay up to Rs66,000 for one night’s wedding makeup?

Everywhere in the world, winter comes with chilly days and hot chocolate but in Pakistan it brings along wedding season. It is my friend’s wedding this season also and as all the wedding plans were materialising, the last thing on my friend’s mind was her makeup costs. Unfortunately, amidst all the instructions and warnings that were pouring down from the whole family regarding clothes, food, set-up, no one addressed the skyrocketing costs of salons these days. Searching for the right place was rather easy; making peace with the costs of the right place was not. We came across the rates of Natasha Salon’s, Shamain, Bina Khan and ...

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Grey

Grey road Shit! The fidgety son of a… Slowly breathes out, repeats, repeats… don’t stop. *Grunts* On a scale of one to 10, the pain I felt was a solid madar… But as my blood rushed out, diluting my consciousness with it, my body involuntarily limped and my selfish soul decided to dissociate itself from the physical pain. My body went numb soon after being shot. My brain decided that this wasn’t real, this cannot be real and my soul, in a final desperate attempt to distinguish itself from the physicality of all this, lurched out and propped up on the bonnet of the car. I ...

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#WhyIStayed: Understanding why women stay with abusive husbands

When the disturbing video of National Football League (NFL) star, Ray Rice, beating up his wife in an elevator, after knocking her unconscious and dragging her out, surfaced in the media the harrowing narrative of domestic violence remerged with all its might and force. And the news of Janay Rice lashing out at the media for releasing the video and advising the media to mind its own business made her look like an even bigger culprit than her husband. It’s a common example of how the victim is demonised and morphed instantly into a culprit, if she does not fit our tailored standard of sham ...

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Can’t a woman ask for her property share?

A few days ago, I was at a get together with friends and the usual small talk somehow turned to the ‘controversial’ topic of women and their property rights. One of them dramatically sighed and told her sympathisers how her ‘atrocious’ sister-in-law had the audacity to ask for her share of the family’s property. That opened up a Pandora’s Box as she was joined in by the other women who started sharing anecdotes of girls who had the audacity to ask for their share of their family’s property. I did not, and could not, understand what was so reprehensible about a ...

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