Matchmaking businesses: Wolves disguised in sheep clothing?

Published: April 13, 2014

These so called social service providers ruin the lives of helpless and naive girls along with their families.

These so called social service providers ruin the lives of helpless and naive girls along with their families. These so called social service providers ruin the lives of helpless and naive girls along with their families.

They say that ‘relationships are made in heaven’. But finding that ‘assigned better half’ on this earth is quite a daunting task. This chore becomes even more overwhelming when mothers of daughters approaching their twenties become apprehensive at being unable to find a good spouse for their daughters.

And sometimes in their desperation, they eventually seek the help of matchmakers. Matchmaking in Pakistan is gradually gaining ground and turning into a money-making business. Getting their daughters married into a decent family is undeniably a glad tiding for any family. But the plethora of events and proceedings that precede the event are quite dreadful and often laden with disappointment.

This is precisely why matchmaking is, unfortunately, becoming a lucrative business.

Pakistan is a country where soaring inflation has already made managing the day-to-day finances of a family difficult, especially considering the fact that in most households, there’s just one bread winner. And now, a major portion of these limited finances are reserved for the matchmakers’ fee which varies depending on the experience and ‘success rate’ of the match maker.

The quandary is not just confined to financial considerations but also the often inappropriate behaviour that the girl and her family have to endure. The girl is expected to look appealing, bear her potential in-law’s scrutiny and answer a multitude of acceptable and unacceptable questions by candidates narrowed down by the matchmaker. Added to this is the burden of arranging an extravagant menu of delicacies (preferably home-cooked) every time the matchmaker calls and schedules another ‘look-see’.

But disappointment takes over and all the efforts go down the drain when days later the phone rings with polite (and sometimes impolite) refusals.

Understandably, this shatters the family and especially the girl both, mentally and physically. After spending hours on her grooming and looks, the refusal comes as a slap on the girl’s face, making her doubt her personality and lowering her self-esteem. On the other hand, the parents are left disappointed and worried with regards to the wasted expenditure, and the thought of their daughter living her life as the ‘dreaded spinster’.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon occurs quite often in thousands of households across our country until ‘Mr right’ is found. But what is even more unfortunate is that even after finding a partner for their daughter while undergoing such struggles, there is still no guarantee of the girl’s future and happiness.

I came across two such sad incidents which even after years of their occurrence, were remembered by the girls’ mothers with profound regret. Both these girls belonged to lower middle class families.

In one incident, the girl and her family were attracted by the man’s occupation and his residence in one of the Gulf states where he was employed. This man’s family visited the girl’s house numerous times and each time the girl’s family prepared lavish cuisines, believing that their generosity and considerate behaviour would impress the potential in-laws. Moreover, every time the man’s family came to the girl’s house for a visit, the matchmaker charged a fee for her services.

After almost two years of these visits, this man and his family simply stopped coming and the arrangement came to an end. During this time, the match maker kept beating around the bush when asked about their reckless and irresponsible attitude.

This poor girl and her family still await a decent and promising proposal that might come her way.

The second incident was one of blatant manipulation and lies as the man’s family along with the matchmaker took advantage of the girl’s (and her family’s) helplessness at being the eldest of six sisters – the ‘burden of burdens’ in our society.

The man pretended to be the sole owner of his parent’s house which was shown to be located in one of Karachi’s posh areas. The matchmaker made Rs95,000 in this scam by charging a fee to the girl’s family for her services and to the man’s family for playing along with the lie.

However, once they got married the façade was exposed. The girl discovered that he had two wives already and actually lived in an underprivileged area of the city. Today, after six years of marriage, the girl is working two shifts in a government school just to feed her children and her not-so-stable husband while her family are neck deep in hefty loans which they borrowed for their daughter’s wedding.

It is a pity that such selfish and money-minded attitudes of these so called social service providers is actually a menace to society and ruins the lives of helpless and naive girls along with their families.

It is a pity that just because these girls and their families are poor, their lives are not considered precious or important.

Abeera Siddiqui

Abeera Siddiqui

A mass communication student and an amateur poet who loves writing and will continue it as a lifelong profession. Contributed in TheKashmirWalla. She loves analysing the current sociopolitical situation of her country through the power of pen. She tweets @AbeeraRashid (

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

  • M.

    Well, if we weren’t so desperate to get kids married off, we wouldn’t need such matchmakers. The idea that you need to pay someone to come to your house to look at your daughter to decide how ‘marriage worthy’ she is makes no sense. So if that’s what you choose to do, don’t be surprised when you eventually realize you’ve thrown away considerable time and money. Also, lavish displays of wealth you don’t have to impress someone you don’t know? Yeah, bad idea. This doesn’t need to be spelled out, especially to people who claim to be part of the ‘lower middle class’.Recommend

  • Pappu

    “Birth Control” is the only solution to this and thousand other problems.Recommend

  • Miss Syed

    Well, I guess, all that so called convergence of media, easy access to communicative means has done is, bring more distance. People don’t interact the way they used to do. with free internet calls, it’s increasingly difficult to dial the numbers!
    This match making business is flourishing because people these days, both men and women have unrealistic demands. Secondly, Our really backward society still frowns upon marriage by choice. Age limit? which is so lame….
    Mothers worry ONLY about their daughters, and forget about their sons untill they are 30+ then, frantically they demand brides less than 25.
    How men remain men celibate for all these years, probably never enters their mom’s mind.
    Religion is thrown out the window. WHAT RELIGION? WHO CARES?
    Let me put it in a very simple way. I am ONLY 21 and my mom is already going bananas. I have recently been a victim of these matchmakers as well.
    Once an aunty rejected me saying, she looks tiny…LOL.
    the other time, she said oh! she is not from so and so school., She wouldn’t have the required ACCENT! Without even talking to me. I didn’t even speak.
    All a gal in our society has to do is look dumb, and constantly look at the floor. and let aunties judge her while they stuff samosas.
    Incredibly preposterousRecommend

  • U.M Sadiq

    I believe the only reason that men get to call the shots, is because of lack of information.

    I really think that matchmaking online can bridge that gap, and can play a positive role, where decent men and women looking forward to getting married can find out that their are a lot of fishes in the sea. Speed up the process, and if your in-laws are inconsiderate from the get go, thats a red flag, drop them and reach out for the next one.

    Honestly, in a country where “arranged marriages thrive”. Why oh Why can’t we just have online profiles, and you can have a list of things of likes and dislikes. And the way I see it Men should be the one desperate to find a good match, not vice versa.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The subject of ‘ matchmaking ‘ as a business is intriguing. It throws up several arguments and one being as to why has society / culture brought the girls parents and also the girl, down to this level where she is paraded about like a commodity. The two instances quoted seemed absurd but I believe must be true.
    Cutting to the chase…….and I may receive flack for saying this but its time that the girl must put her foot down and claim her life for herself and at least be a vocal part of the decision making AFTER ALL IT’S THE GIRLS LIFE and no one elses.Recommend

  • wajahat

    maybe people need to marry their daughters based on character rather than on income because it seems that that their desperation aids in them getting scammed. in addition islam has restricted you to 4 wives so good men should see taking a second wife as doing a service to societyRecommend

  • yusrafahd

    mA congrats very well written dear…keep growing its so gudRecommend

  • Sami

    Well you tend to blame the matchmakers only. What about the lust of the families that drives this culture?. You mentioned that Girl’s Parents were enticed with a good job of the guy in the middle east. In the second case you discussed about the house in a good locality. But you failed to mention Etiquette of any guy. The guy was humble or not. He was respectable or not?. You never discussed the personality of the guy at any stage at all ??
    So if a Good Job, Money and a Good house will be the only criteria to judge the guy’s personality then kindly dont whine in the end that you are deceived as your basic fundamentals are actually wrong in the first place.

    Kindly keep in mind that those who live in lower middle class localities are also human and they respect their women as well. Also the money is one but not the only criteria to judge.Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    Its the dark part of the society, but I believe that the parents are held responsible at the first place. they don’t give the hard lessons of the life to their daughters so that they become self-confident and well-equipped to deal with the ups and downs of the not so fair life. but the article is another evidence of the fact that the biggest enemy of a woman is a woman.Recommend

  • junaid

    hot issue you comment on…that is absltly ri8Recommend

  • R Ali

    Matchmakers are actually making it difficult to find an accurate proposal. They are the real culprits of the society. Taking the advantage of desperate parents, these Matchmakers take huge amounts from both families.
    It is a pity that Matchmakers do not call their matchmaking affair as Business.Recommend

  • ayyub

    Why not just marry one of the cousins?Recommend

  • privali

    allowing polygamy under certain conditions (i believe Islam has them) might be a solution to poor countries. It is not just Pakistan, poor non muslim countries have it worst, look at Philippines, it is ghastly what they do to their women.Recommend

  • naeem khan

    the writing is based on the wrongly conceived social notion that its only the men who make high demands the reality is as is evident from both her examples that the eyes of the girls family are only on men’s pocket the reality is girls are as much demanding as men so that why we have bad matchesRecommend

  • Malik Abdul Rehman

    urban people these days don’t bother until their daughters are 25Recommend

  • NaughtyCaller

    Heartbreaking and truly sad. These people should be brought to book by the law enforcement agenciesRecommend

  • Fahad

    Stop considering your daughters a burden on your family. My aunts did not get married until their 30’s. They lead a better and happy life just because they waited for the right proposals and they did not miss out on their exciting careers. They do not depend on their husbands, and make their own decisions..Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    The parents of the girls are equally to be blamed. They should have educated their daughters and made them independent . Then they would not have had to depend solely on ‘matchmakers’ to give a bright future to their daughters.Recommend

  • Rakshinda

    I agree with this blog post by all means.
    My friend was told that she has a manly physique and that’s why even after gobbling up tons of samosas the guys have rejected her rishta,i mean what the hell? She is a girl and she deserves to be treated like a human at least. Her physique was decided by Allah and not herself. Shame on such people (rot in hell)Recommend

  • Tarbooz

    Even samosas must be feeling shameful at this parade of young women like cats-in-a-box.Recommend

  • Miss Syed

    It’s a disgusting practice. I don’t think it exists ONLY in lower middle class. This sickness is pretty much on even in Higher classes with sound education.
    It’s a pity our regressive society is stuck at this. Parents don’t want to change, and Kids who can change, CAN’T change because of their parents.
    This circus needs to end.Recommend

  • Feroz

    These days in India no one entertains proposals from unknown sources. The trend of finding matches through matrimonial sites on the Net is gaining in popularity too. Now a days everybody seems to have wizened up to fraud and we increasingly see the use of Private Detectives to check out the antecedents not just of bride or groom but their families too. Better to be safe than sorry.Recommend

  • Ibrahim

    Based on interpretation of hadees by our Holy prophet PBUH non believers consider money and physical charms as important attributes for marriage whereas my lot of believers should consider DEEN as the most important element. Nothing more needs to be said on this topic.Recommend

  • mhammad ovais khan

    the situation by the time has changed now the tables has turned around to the other side nowadays it is seen that now girl refuses more marriage proposal rather then from guy’s side and reasons for refusals are so petty you cant even comprehend from a sensible person like he is bald or looking chubby i mean who cares for complexion if he is polite with well earningRecommend

  • Pappu

    “Religion is thrown out the window. WHAT RELIGION? WHO CARES?”

    You are so right! A 6 year old girl can be married (to man of any age) if we care about religion.Recommend

  • hammurabi

    Cousin marriage results in abonarmalities of kids 90percent timesRecommend

  • hammurabi

    That’s our culture ,parents match makers all are exploitersRecommend

  • maheen

    it is not that they dont consider deen, but in order to survive in this world you need Deen and Duniya in balance. I have never seen a masjid ke mullah ke kids go to Karachi grammar school or study in the west. there might be that one in a million case of a smart poor kid making it big… but the reality is that every kid is not smart. Bottom line is, you need money to live a decent meritocratic life and therefore mothers of daughters are not wrong to want a guy who has a stable job and earns and live well. else…. its nayee roshni school for the next generations!!Recommend

  • Honest Chap

    Have you considered the other side of the story?! Unfortunately, the system / process is flawed and most people lie..! Exagerrate.. I’ve been stung. My advice now is use the old age process of reference where ties / relationships / friendships have been built over time snd I would strongly recommend the individuals going out for dinner / coffees multiple times before taking the plunge.
    May Allah help us all.Recommend

  • Queen

    Though I agree with you on most points but if you look at our society and its norms, then its is very difficult and sometimes impossible for the girl to put her ‘foot down’. Even if some girls do take the courage, they face criticism and sneering from their colleagues, relatives,and friends. What is required is that the mindset of the society should change so that people should stop treating girls like ‘a commodity’.Recommend

  • Queen

    Though I agree with you on most points but if you look at our society and its norms, then its is very difficult and sometimes impossible for the girl to put her ‘foot down’. Even if some girls do take the courage, they face criticism and sneering from their colleagues, relatives,and friends. What is required is that the mindset of the society should change so that people should stop treating girls like ‘a commodity’.Recommend

  • AAAA

    There won’t be a need of match makers if we weren’t greedy ourselves.

    Boy’s parents want a girl who is educated, slim, smart, gori (fair skin), should be able to prepare a feast for guests in 30 mins, obey husband and his parents and in some cases work as well to support her husband.

    In my opinion, all these qualities cannot exist in one girl.

    Girl’s parent want a boy who is good looking (but can be over look if he had bucket loads of money), only child so their daughter only has to deal with saas and susar, house in defense or areas of similar status, enough income to support an army of servants, fulfill all of their daughter’s demands, listen to her and give priority to her over his parents/family . But all this could be over looked if he live in Western countries or Middle East. Then he boy lives abroad then there is an entire. I was asked to bring a copy of my degree certificate etc.

    Miss Syed rightly said religion is out of the window its just greed. We need to change our thinking.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Sorry for my late response, but I just read your reply.
    Change does not simply happen. For it to happen the affected party must initiate the process for change…..painful it will be, criticised and sneered at they will get but they will be doing the right thing and the fruit at the end of the struggle will be sweet……….expecting the mindset of society to change by magic is not workable.
    I don’t mean to be argumentative but I hope you get the point I am trying to make.Recommend

  • gp65

    You are right of course that social norms need to change but then who will change them if not the girl and her family? More often than not, the parents who complain about the poor behavior of ladkewalas towards their daughters, indulge in the same behavior in situation where they are the ladkewalas.
    Women are 50% of the population (almost) and certainly could influence how women are perceived and treated by society.
    I do agree with you that this is a complex problem, but a start has to be made to change these attitudes and women putting their foot down and their families supporting them is a good starting point.Recommend

  • abubakar

    Haha maybe just maybe a realisitic, non delusional and knowledgeable commenter os finally hereRecommend

  • Syme

    Ahh misandry at its best. Look at the irony, people still seek the same “prized” boy.Recommend

  • Queen

    Agree with your point. It is true that some hard work will be needed to bring the required change in our society.Recommend

  • Queen

    Agree. You have rightly said that “Women are 50% of the population (almost) and certainly could influence how women are perceived and treated by society”. The problem is that women, especially future mother in-laws, have high expectations when it comes to finding their prospective daughters-in law. I guess there is a need to change the mindset of the older female population of our society.Recommend

  • Sadaf Saleem

    rightly saidRecommend

  • Sadaf Saleem

    rightly saidRecommend

  • tungi

    why do women have to portray as the victim here!why look for rich settled families!ab they form the 5 to ten percent of the society what will the rest of the females get then?parents are also in the lust for money, phir aisa to ho ga!bhugtoRecommend

  • tungi

    you wouldnt find that many rich families!the ration of rich to middle class is quite less!Recommend