A ‘long march’ against social evils

Published: January 17, 2013
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There are several girls in remote villages across the country who are forced into such unions. PHOTO: REUTERS

My October 2011 visit to the Wahi Pandhi village in the Katcho desert suggested that there is a deep connection between ‘money and marriage’.

Early marriages were widespread in this desert area, where trying to secure a regular meal is a challenge. Such ‘marital transactions’ are but the norm to win the basic necessities of life.

During my visit, I met a ten-year-old girl named Kanwal. Her name was beautiful — it meant water-lily.

Sadly, her fate was not as enchanting as her name. It was learnt that the police had foiled her marriage in the preceding year as she was underage.

The groom’s family had offered money to Kanwal’s family in exchange for her hand. The economics behind the arrangement was grotesque. Kanwal’s widowed mother had purchased a plot from the money her groom had offered. With the marriage cancelled and the other party demanding money, she faced cruel punishment.

The village’s panchayat ordered the widow to either return the money or leave the village.

Like Kanwal, there are several girls in remote villages across the country who are forced into such unions. The urbanites are not spared either. Recently, a lower-middle class resident of Karachi told me that his family had to buy more than five tolas of gold for his wedding celebrations to compete with the other family.

It is a wonder how marriage has turned into such a burdensome affair. Instead of a union built on love and trust between the bride and groom, families force boys and girls into the relationship.

It is doubly taxing when you consider that no religion, especially the one followed widely in Pakistan, dictates such ‘marriage transactions’. The practice is purely the result of a crippled mindset.

In my opinion there seem to be two reasons for this deep-seated trend: failure of the state to improve people’s living standard and no laws to eradicate such social evils.

There’s no shortage of the type of promises our politicians make. However, never have I come across any promises by politicians regarding the elimination of such practices, or the abolishment of dowry.

Why are there no long marches against such social evils?

Naeem.sahoutara

Naeem Sahoutara

A reporter for the Karachi desk at The Express Tribune naeem.sahoutara (AT) tribune.com.pk

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