Making informed choices

Published: October 3, 2010

Women in Pakistan often have difficult choices to make when it comes to divorce

Mark Steven Johnson, an American film writer and director, once said, “Everything you do in life, every choice you make, has a consequence.”

Last week a woman filed a petition in court seeking divorce from an uneducated man to whom she was married by her parents when she was a young girl. The woman said that she had studied and become a teacher but her husband did not get any education. She submitted that she could not foresee a happy marriage with him since they were very different from each other.

My first reaction after reading the news was to rejoice silently. It seems that times have finally begun to change. It must have taken courage, a lot of it actually, to take such a stand. Had her family or her ‘husband’ to whom she was betrothed without been given a choice, been sensible or reasonable the issue would have been resolved at home. But, as is the case with many families when it comes to marriages, what was done was done. She must have approached the court after deliberating for I don’t know how many nights. She must have been afraid of how her family would react, how would the man who she was given to would respond to her daring to challenge the decision. She must have been told, before or after she filed the petition, that she was bringing the family a bad name.

Maybe her father, brother or mother even told her that they regretted the day she was born and that she was dead to them. She must have been told, not just by her immediate family, but also far off relatives and neighbours who have no business interfering in her life that by leaving the husband she would be a divorcee and that no one would marry her afterwards. People must have ‘tsk-tsked’ behind her family’s back and ‘sympathised’ saying, “That is why you do not educate the girls. They become insane.”

They must have said that her sisters, if she has any, would also suffer because of her ‘inconsiderate and selfish’ decision; that no one would ask for their hand either.

But she bore all that. She did not let their punches knock her off. She stood up for herself. She realised that she was better than what she was being given, she believed in herself and she found the courage to fight back. Her fight is far from over. In all probability she will go through blackmail, emotional and otherwise. She will be reasoned with, scolded, maybe worse. I hope that she finds the nerve not to give up, that she realises everyday that the moment she decided to go against the family decision, she was right and that there is nothing wrong with believing that you deserve more from life.

Making such a choice is driven by a willingness to make a change in your life, which helps one reclaim personal power. When you make a choice, you take responsibility for yourself. I read somewhere, “It is the moment when a person re-defines themselves on their own terms.” I think in our society many of us, not just women, lack that responsibility, not just in deciding who to marry. We need to start being self-responsible. That is the only way we will accept the consequences of our actions and our choices.

Aatekah Mir-Khan

Aatekah Mir-Khan

A senior sub-editor for the Lahore city pages of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • parvez

    The woman is obviously strong willed, brave and has a mind of her own. She should make it through what will be thrown at her due to her decision.
    Being a teacher she could have taken the path of educating her husband and thus raising his position without hurting his male ego. Reminds me of an old Robert DeNero movie on a similar theme. A tough challenge but worth a shot. Possibly she just wanted to dump him. Both ways she’s in for a rough ride.Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    Good write up. And I totally agree with the writer. It is about time that women are stopped considered as some commodities. They are flesh and blood, they breath. They are human. They have a right to live and right to live as they want to. Nations dont progress when half of the population is deprived of their rights. Let women make their own choices and carry the responsibilities.Recommend

  • ayesha

    I salute that lady! I hope her family doesn’t kill her in name of honour!Recommend

  • Hasan

    please do some research before writing an article based on one news strip. you dont even know the woman. Recommend

  • Hasan

    where do i find him in Karachi? Recommend

  • SadafFayyaz

    A very hard decison to make…….since most of the people start black mailing such women…….Why did she make a yes that time to marriage? One can know easily that he or she would be able to live with what kind of partner..Recommend

  • Muhammad Ziad

    I would side with Mr Hasan here. We really cannot pass judgement on it before knowing both sides of the coin.

    Likewise, let us not shrug the possibility of her having a pre-marital relation with someone other than her husband before she got married. Excuses comes later on. See, i can make a case on this too and be extremely bias. Recommend

  • Think therefore

    Poorly researched…. completely biased…. how did she study…. who was earning and fending for the family while she studied to become a teacher…. is she faithful or involved in an affair on the side… did her husband sacrifice more than she is prepared to do….everything that women do in the name of emancipation cannot be condoned…. fine it is your right to choose not to live with any person…. but we need some one to cover the mans story too… if men are all that bad and oppressive then women should start aborting them the moment they find out they are pregnant with one beggining with the author of this article. And if my comment hurts any sentiments than perhaps it is all the more reason to explore what other evils this womans husband was subjecting her too… all men are not angels but then neither are women…Recommend

  • Zahid

    It is a good move by the woman. They have every right to fight with the men’s world, where forced marriages are in common. It is not the story of one woman, it is the story of thousands but it needs courage to challenge. Whoever is the lady w=or what is name it does not matter. No research work even needed for this. It is a choice whether you live with your life partner or not. Recommend

  • Humanity

    Whether or not the story is properly researched is an important point. However, what stands out as a stark reality is the quick reaction expressed in a few comments. A time-tested rebuttal is to start a character assassination campaign, and vilify the woman to begin a witch hunt, all based on the fear of losing control. I How dare a woman challenge the male ego by choosing to take control of her life? It would be interesting to see the reaction with the roles reversed.

    Bigotry does have a way of getting exposed.Recommend

  • Maryam

    i think one should try his/her best to comprise and adjust…becuase filing for “Divorce” is nothing to be proud be, it is an act which is halal but still disliked.
    and ofcouse when there is no option only then u should think of going for it.!Recommend