A daughter’s burden

Published: July 14, 2011

Some parents are depriving their kids of a lot of happiness solely because they care too much about the society.

Over the past decades so much has changed in this world from the foreign relations of Pakistan to the allies of the United States, however one unfortunate thing is still the same, and will perhaps stay this way forever.

No, I am not referring to Ms Meera’s age. The point in consideration here is the mindset of most Pakistani parents.

I belong to a moderate upper middle-class family in Pakistan but I have had to sacrifice a lot of opportunities because of my parents, mostly my dad. However, I feel my sacrifices were small compared to many others. I have seen my friends give up their dreams because their parents said they were not ‘allowed’ to pursue them.

My friend Sidra* was a maths whiz, but had to give up her dream of becoming a chartered accountant because her parents insisted she follow the family norm of ‘medical for females’. She said goodbye to her love for maths and completed a Bachelors of Dental Surgery.

It is shameful that parents believe they have the power to control the life of their kids to the extent that they decide the course of their career all on their own with complete disregard to what their children want. No wonder career disorientation is so common among students in Pakistan.

This domination isn’t limited to careers; most parents even decide friends for their children.

Nineteen-year-old Saleha* told me about how she had to break ties with her best friend because her parents decided she was not suitable company.

“We were really close since sixth grade. We went to the same college too, but when my parents found out that when she got engaged to this guy she had been in love with him, I was told to immediately end the friendship. Her inquiring eyes really intimidated and embarrassed me, but I had to abide by my parents’ decision.”

Imagine the humiliation Saleha must have felt. She would have had to come up with justifications about her disappearance from her best friend’s life!

In some cases other family members also partake in a roundtable conference on girls’ personal lives. Twenty-six-year-old Rabia*, a graduate from a business school in Karachi says that she isn’t allowed to work at a bank or a multinational company despite her qualification and skills.

I was shocked when Rabia revealed why:

“I have been in a state of continuous depression because my parents have permitted me to opt for only teaching  Also, it’s not like I can teach anywhere I want. I am restricted to teaching at one school near my house. Every time I demand to work elsewhere, my parents tell me that there are already no suitors for me and if I insist on working at banks etcetera, eventually I will end up leading a miserable life as an unmarried woman.”

Not only have Rabia’s parents put restrictions on her work opportunities and social circle, but they have also induced depressing thoughts in her head about her marital status.

The promotion of this absurd notion, that women can’t get married to decent men if they work, is prevalent in our society. However, not many of us are doing anything to eradicate such ridiculous beliefs. Instead most marriage bureaus and families breed such beliefs, perpetually dwell on their importance, and make life miserable for women.

Sixteen-year-old Fatmah* says that her parents have always been very bossy and intimidating. When she was offered a summer internship at a national newspaper, her parents told her that she couldn’t participate. Fatmah, who wants to be a journalist, says this was a blow.

With disappointment visible in her eyes, Fatmah told me:

“The refusal from my dad’s side was sort of expected, but it still really hurt me. I don’t understand why my parents don’t think its okay to let me go out of the house to do something productive. My days are mostly spent at a cousin’s house or listening to family gossip because I am not allowed to hang out with friends. I feel like crying when I think about how great it would have been at the internship and how much I could have learned.

Fatmah’s parents just let her talent go to waste. There are only a handful of Pakistani students who get to intern at national newspapers when only 16-year-old, but Fatmah’s parents preferred to disregard her achievement and told her to stay at home, shattering her dreams into little pieces.

While there are many parents who have now learnt the advantages of giving some power of decision making to their kids, there are many others who are still bent on preserving conventional beliefs that give their decisions priority over their child’s.

Amna a 20-year-old confided:

“Whenever I turn to my parents to solve such predicaments for me, they snap on me without providing any legitimate reasons for their decisions. If I try to convince them or argue back, I am told to shut up.”

Though parents want the best for their kids, I strongly feel that some parents in my part of the world are depriving their kids of a lot of happiness solely because they care way too much about the mindset our society has bred over the ages.

*All names have been changed

Komal Ali

Komal Ali

Born and raised in Pakistan, Komal Ali is an International Relations major and Law and Public Policy nexus minor at Mount Holyoke College. She is currently doing a Pre-Law certificate at University of Amsterdam. She tweets at @komalali92 (twitter.com/Komalali92)

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

  • Fahad Raza

    Yeah right on! Some times girls do sacrifice a lot for familes. Great points shared Good blog My 5/5 Recommend

  • Fooz

    “give up her dream of becoming a chartered accountant”

    Lol at this statement.. no one dreams of becoming a chartered accountant, she chose a better path…Recommend

  • Usman

    Parents do everything for their child’s safety and it is very sad if girls are not able to understand their parents feelings. I think they are lucky girls (and should be thankful to their parents) who don’t have to step out of home for any job. Parents should not be blamed for this act.Recommend

  • Tribune Reader

    well written contrary to popular belief guys too have a lot of restrictions due to the nature of society that we live in, u could have written a gender neutral pc. the youth has it tough in general period.Recommend

  • sana javed

    well written!
    The above discussed scenario are very common, at least Rabia went to good business schools. i personally know so many girls who weren’t allowed to study after A’levels and they were married off to their cousins. There mind, actions and everything in their life is ruled, first by their parents and then by their husband and in-laws when they get married.
    I think most parents cant imagine their daughters going abroad for higher education, even if they have enough money to finance their education. and they justify their argument by saying, “because we care”.Recommend

  • http://www.komalali10.blogspot.com Komal Ali

    @Fooz, perhaps it doesn’t look like a better path to you. But to her Chartered Accountancy was a dream.

    Usman, over-protection is never good. Being at home isn’t something anybody would like if there are so many opportunities that can be explored.

    Tribune Reader, point noted.Recommend

  • Mehak

    You are such an amazing writer. I feel so sad after reading this. How can parents be so cruel to their daughters. This is disgusting like seriously. Our nation need writers like you so that people are aware of things going on. You are truly an inspiration girl.Recommend

  • AF

    I work at a US university. I met my wife who is from India who came to pursue her MS program in computers at this university. Lately it seems their is a flood of people coming from India to pursue their studies here and a big portion of them are single girls. Kudos to their families for promoting this. I hope some day that trend moves to our country as well.

    Good article Komal. Only with public discussions from people like you on such topics, will the future get better.Recommend

  • M.


    Um, nope. If parents ALWAYS knew the best we’d see a lot less kids growing up to become terrorists and maulvis and murderers. And they’d have less kids too.Recommend

  • Uruj Fatima

    Amazing as always Komal! Keep it up!
    The kind of system we have these days in our country, due to that depression is a common issue among people. You know there’s this woman, she got married into some family. They all insulted her just because her height was short, and not just that. It was like they were looking for reasons to torture her and annoy her. There are many such stories. We can only pray. And we call Pakistan a Muslim country.Recommend

  • AmeriMom

    This article is well written and seems to reveal the world as she see it (as per the name of the article). It seems to me that although all parents strive to protect their children, this is often not in the child’s best interest. Each of us need to somehow make our way in the world. Not everyone should marry and have children. If you want to do something that you are especially gifted at, why not? I think the issue is that some people want to work. Not everyone should marry and have children. This is part of what it means to be free! In everything we do, we weigh the possible consequences, if I do this, what will happen. Or perhaps it should be: what’s the worst thing that could happen if I do this. No one wants to be led in directions that don’t feel right to them. As a parent, it is my job to teach my child/children the difference between right and wrong and how to deal with people. When they are very young, I must watch closely but eventually I need to let go and let them live their own lives.Recommend

  • Junaid

    true.. and the parents most usually say, “this is our love for u beta because of which we do not allow you for this”, ahhh.i hate it wen my father says, “u just concentrate towards your academic studies, there’s no need to do any graphics course ” :/.. everyone has complete right to fulfill his/her dream and interests!!!! Recommend

  • Junaid

    everyone has the right to fulfill his/her dream… in one cant convince the parents..then confuse them :PRecommend

  • Urooj Javed

    This is such a bitter reality.
    Well written! :)Recommend

  • Rizwan Mujtaba

    Its a pity that things happen this way in Pakistan. Its a waste of talent and skills, which really could be used in a hundred different places. It all rests in the hands of our youngsters now, for they are the only key to bring a change to this wicked phenomenon.Recommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    Well written. One of the reasons for such parents is that the parents themselves have been through the same path and finally arrived to current situation. They learned from personal experiences (like if their own parents were that much strict, they might have thought it to be the only way for effective development of family or if their parents weren’t that strict and things didn’t work out, they might have believed a strong hand is needed to keep everything in its proper place).
    This mentality is quite common in most parts of the country, be it urban or rural, and it is not limited to girls either. I wanted to join either Computer Sciences or Psychology since both were equally passionate for me but I was forced to opt for BBA because my father (and father’s friends) declared neither CS nor Psychology hold future and Banking sector has the future. To my dismay I found out that I disliked Accounting and Finance from the very core my heart; probably that’s why I never managed to score higher than a C+ in any accounting or finance related courses but managed to score A grades in computer and organizational development courses.
    I won’t say that my father was at fault because what I was forced to take was done because the future was considered brighter in that particular field and lack of awareness itself also must have played a role in the decision making. It was taken considering it in my best interest, even if it didn’t turn out the way they thought.Recommend

  • http://tradersutra.com hariharmani

    So what is the answer?The other day I was reading the plight of a girl raised in France,she was asking stranger what should she do,she was seriously thinking of leaving her family and go underground and she was gathering skill to survive and make it outside in world,40 years ago,on my trip to U.K.,a very educated woman(a doctor) wanted my help to come to USA,I’m to this day ashamed of myself for turning down her desperate plea for help.She thought I was progressing and courageous person,but I was not what she thought I was,I think I was to scared of my young wife then thinking of me the worse,anyway we chicken out the odds are stacked too high,the forces arrayed againest are to massive and strong,family ties are to strong to break,for this you need some one, whose shoulders are strong and massive in all aspect of life,who is super person,and has tons of empathy,where do find such person?My advise to young woman is when they become mothers never undermine once daughter’s dream,this we owe to ourself and not so much to to a child,at least do not become a party to oppression,that is double tragedy,all I can hope life becomes less oppressive to 50% of the Islamic society,if I say anything more than the blogg won’t see the light of the moderator,so I quit while still ahead.Life will get better soon enough.,we have to hope for hope dies last.Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    Thanks for compiling these very real stories and presenting them. It was a pleasure to read. The sacrifices women have to make in our society are unbelievably brave and inspiring. I hope more women come forward with their stories of struggle & share them. The catharsis and the solution to the issue is in spreading awareness.Recommend

  • Saim Saeed

    It takes two to tango. Acquiescent kids make it easy for parents to dictate their will. If girls and boys are prevented from fulfilling their wishes even when they’re adults, then they ony have themselves to blame. There’s something slightly perverse about twenty-somethings not ‘getting permission’ to marry, to work or even to leave the house. Asking for clemency from parents is an exercise in wishful thinking since one does not become ‘liberal’ overnight. People, boys and girls alike, need to take responsibility for their (in)actions and hold themselves equally, if not more, accountable. Recommend

  • Naureen Mahmood

    Alhamdo Lillah- my family, especially my parents, are gems. They have educated me in the best co-ed school in the country, supported me to get a foreign degree, encouraged me to travel (alone) all over the world and allowed me to work in a reputable organization- and do as I please with my salary. They have maintained that I should get married whenever and to whooever I want to. There are no restrictions on my friendships, my driving a car and my going to watch movies or theatre. On my part, too, I have always tried to work hard, maintain a simple life, stick to high moral standards of decency and integrity and treat all with respect.

    And by the way, my parents as well I, are very religious- regular salat, soum and zakat. I think it is these beliefs in the Almighty (that Allah alone protects us) that has endowed them with trust and affection. They treat me as an “amanat” from Allah and not as their personal possession. They respect me as a human being and my grant my claim to human rights – and surely love me more than anything in this world- have they not proved this?

    I know my parents too were brought up this way- both (my mother, too) of them graduated from abroad (25 years back!) and have worked in good organizations. They do not discriminate between boys and girls; and they encourage and help other girls (of needy families) to get educated-even upto higher levels.

    I am grateful to Allah for giving me such opportunities! MashAllah.Recommend

  • Naveed Hussain Shah

    I read the blog as well as the comments in my opinion all are having a good response but as for as my experience is concerned while serving at different department i came across the wordings of different high level and aged officer that is unbearable to listen.Similarly our parents having a life experience also come across the same experience of the workmate though its very much disgusting for everyone of us to send our daughters,sister or wives in such an environment.In short we need a revival of the prevailing culture in our organizational culture.Recommend

  • Noble Tufail

    Komal. very honest analysis and display of a phenomenon that exists in our society. now the world through the eyes of a father is different than an ambitious teen. A father is never against the wishes / subject choices of his daughter … but a compromise that he opts is forced from the society we live in … this compromise is then gets vertically transferred to the generations down the line. one simple reason is the the absence of the compatibility between the home environment/values and the environment out there in society. bakhuda ham mohabat kay dushman nahin .. laikin apney usooloon kay gulam hein!! Recommend

  • Raza Abbasi

    I think these days the son is a greater burden on parents than daughters. With massive unemployment and opprotunities to get into wrong kind of activities, parents are overburdened with the responsibilities of sons. Its just that they do not realize it. Thinking that these are boys, parents leave the sons to do as they please without realizing the damage that the boys can face or the damage the boys can create.

    A poor and downtrodden society is a hell for all- be it a son or daughter. But parents need to wake up. Recommend

  • AMQ

    Good piece!

    @Usman: Yes parents do everything for their children however, doing these things will only set them back. I dont just mean for girls but also for guys. The fact is that the world is changing rapidly and it is important for everyone to be independent or at least have the tools that will help them to be independent if the need arises. It is not about being lucky or unlucky but rather about giving your children the exposure and experience so that they are not dumbfounded when the time comes to face the real world and mind you the real world is very different from school, college and university. Also our parents keep us very protected so what we face in our homes is not even the tip of the iceberg!Recommend

  • Mehwish Ashraf

    The article is truly a facet of my heart spoken off! Well done author! As far as I can foresee, there will be no change of this mind-set even in 2050, so deep-rooted it is in our culture!!!

    Even if they let you go off to pursue a career of your own choice or have a degree from abroad, our parents have more than one standards of describing the achievements of their daughters by molding them in different ways as per the audience. This sucks me most of the time! Recommend

  • KolachiMom

    Very well written. Many girls in our country suffer this sad fate, and it is an endless cycle. Their mothers before them, went through the same thing. But when they insist their daughters do the same, it is annoying. Young people like you can (and hopefully will) change the norm, with your own children in the future. Keep writing, keep expressing. You have a natural talent for it.Recommend

  • Bilal

    I think this is like Stockholm Syndrome ….. Most of the girls i meet actually say that its their own decision rather than thier parent’s decision and they actually believe in its merit.
    I think the mindset should be that these girls should apply themselves to the maximum and become all they can. Sititng at home and waiting for marriage should not be an option.Recommend

  • http://www.rankmeme.com Ali Yaqoob

    Try to speak to your elder brother (or your elder cousin). He can talk to your parents to settle things!Recommend

  • Ali

    Parrents are real enemies of children, you are right author or other commenters. They face all dificulties to broguht you up but how they dare to ask you something, they dont have any right, good.

    Mom faced all dificulties of birth,sacrificed sleep,fed you at night, washed your dirt, did not enjoy many functions when you were ill,involved in you forgot everything but she dont have any right to suggest you anything,good.

    Dad broke with his family but not engagged you with your cousin(uncle or aunty’s boy or girl), worked in night shifts to provide you maximum facilities,admitted you in good institutes, paid heavy feeses even though have to get loan from someone but paid your dues ontime but this fool do not express his desire before you,well done.

    [email protected] you elite class people are ruinning family structure of middle class families,you are convincing youth to show rebilioius attitude inside the family, advocating disobedience is a possitive trait, for God sake do not try to shatter system, a system of East deliviring from decades.

    P.S.Parrents should litsen point of view of children but should also have right to present their views.Recommend

  • Nargis Bano

    I agree with AmeriMom- Not everyone should marry and have children. This applies to most Pakistanis- especially unfortunately to most of those who are married and are parents and that too of daughters .

    Kudos to Mr and Mrs Mahmood- who have brought up a daughter, Naureen- the way we all should- educated, well travelled and working! But above all, wanted, loved and trusted!!!!!
    I am sure in her independence and confidence, Naureen still feels “protected” by her parents more than the daughters of parents who pose as “protectors” but not of the best interests of their daughters.

    Congratulations Naureen- at least one of us (and a few more, I am sure) is truly loved- selflessly and devotedly by her parents. Free from all-girls school, stifled environment, talk of only clothes, make up and jewels, secret phone calls, blind dates, forced marriage, facing the wrath of selfish and unkind in laws, taunted at the birth of a daughter- and the vicious cycle continues.Recommend

  • imtiaz

    that was a nice post sister.inspiring an thought provoking but i think we still need lot of time to come out of our cocoons.i believe that before we allow our females to work openly we must create a suitable environment for it.thanks. Recommend

  • Eman Ali

    I know countless friends of mine who face the same issues. We owe our lives to our parents, true. But does that mean they seize the power of making choices from us? Absurd! Parents are the greatest blessings of God to us and they want us happy, true. However, some of their actions suggest otherwise. Please parents, stop giving a damn to ‘society’.

    A great article! This issue needs to be addressed.Recommend

  • Nida H.

    Plight of women in our country would not change unless the mindset of the male counterparts changes.I work in a reputable firm and often overhear my male colleagues expressing their opinions’job wali larkiyoun se kon shadi karta hai’ and i feel pity over these men who in spite of getting a good education never really could educate themselves!They take it from their families where mother is just a housewife commanded by a father and sisters are not allowed to work as well even if they posses a good proffesional education.I feel blessed I never faced such restrictions at home,and thankful that no such narrow minded men would approach me for tying the nuptial knot since I do a job.
    Working and persuing a professional education has not made me forget my limits of decency and respect being a girl which Alhamdulillah comes from strong moral values instilled in me by my parents.
    Parents should trust their upbringing when it comes to letting their daughters decide for their future,always being their to guide but never overpowering or forcing decisions onto them.
    Kudos to the writer!Recommend

  • Hamza Ali

    These things are doubtlessly deep rooted in our culture.Hundreds of children like her daily face this sort of attitude of their parents which not only depresses them, but also spoils their talent..Great work author! Recommend

  • Sahrish

    Lol seriously Usman like how? I think you did not read the article properly. A girl was denied the opportunity to work for a National Newspaper, and she now sits idle as her family gossips. Is that something you would be thankful about? She was denied a chance. In another instance quoted in the article, the girl was told to work in a school as she waits to be married. What a productive way to live life Recommend

  • sehrish

    Well written Komal Ali :) i completely agree with it! this is a crucial issue most of us are going through dis phase! being possessive about kids is okay but being over-possessive and over protective will let your child be nowhere! though parents they really care for there kids but ‘freedom of speech’ is a right of every child! choosing there desired field is there ultimate right because ultimately they have to live with it! choosing there desired field will let them love there work! but unfortunately many of the parents they do not understand dis! i wonder when things will change!Recommend

  • Inam

    In Pakistan we have own own terms

    Modern girl => Awara
    Working women => Bud chalan
    The girl who can reply you in same tone => badtameez

    The main reason parent are afraid because they don’t want their daughter to be labeled one of above. Once a girl is labeled like “Awara” the whole town then become know to this term associated with her.

    Hum wo log hn jin k han sharafat ka mayar ye hay k “Nhi bay! wo burka pehen k jati hay shareef hay”

    Its the society behavior that discourage parents to give chance to their child to avail any opportunity. Recommend

  • ismat

    Assalam alaikum
    very well said its true that girls have a to sacrifice a lot for thier families even they are not willing to,they have to obey and follow many such things that they dont wish,but just for the sake of thier parents wish or some other societal norm:(

    i wish such phenomenon must change
    although there must be a limit as according to our religion,but girls should not be asked always for sacrifice and compromise

    All in All we should always beThankful to Allah Almighty for what ever we have
    stay Blessed”)Recommend

  • globalnomad

    I would agree to every single word Komal wrote and to all people she mentioned. Over the years as a daughter from a family pretty similar to many of the people Komal mentioned, a mom of daughters and working in a position where I meet and work along 100s of girls/women of all ages. I have million of stories much worse. At least girls in this article got to speak to their parents at one or the other stage. There are millions who could never even bring their dreams hopes and aspiration to their lips, many a times not only their thoughts are buried but they themselves are spending their lifetime in a wrong marriage, jobs they hate if they end up in any, families they abhor, communities which suffocates, and then they are told it is mightly to ‘compromise’ and girls are prime targets in our society for doing so. I often speak to parents of girls and most of said they have no problem with the issue but “what people will say” ” what khandan waley will say” or “duniya kia kahey gi”. these phrases are huge massive factor in any and all decision for girls right from what she will wear to who she will marry and how many children she would bear. I am sot sure if parents dont fear peoples perception they would let their daughters follow their dreams. All they need is to understand they are growing these children for their future which is unpredictable, and not for the past of the the parents.

    Great work Komal, keep these coming in.Recommend

  • Osama

    If only we had people who would NOT think they’re always right.
    Nobody’s perfect…which includes parents. However, most parents simply don’t think about that. EVER. And planning every step of another human being’s life/career is simply too big of a task. That’s the kinda stuff that God does…it’s called destiny, perhaps. :p
    Truth is, What the parents have preplanned isn’t ALWAYS the “BEST”. Sure, they have their life experience and ever since we learn to talk we ask them a gazillion questions, and consider them the source of all the answers..but afterall we all grow up and develop a mind of our own, dreams of our own and skills of our own; A completely different human being, ready to take on the world…but alot of parents simple don’t let them. :\ There comes a time when parents should step back and see how their kids turn out as grownups…but that, sadly, doesn’t happen for alot of people or happens really really late.
    It seems the society is always striving to develop this ethical ‘perfection’…when it knows perfection isn’t human. Is it really that hard to understand?
    What most parents really doesn’t understand is that if you REALLY LOVE your kids so damn much, you have to set them free eventually. For many, that ‘eventually’ never comes and over the years this mindset has sunk it’s roots deep, way deep. Making this direly needed paradigm shift an even distant possibility.
    Keep writing, it’s people like you that we need :) Recommend

  • Gulzar Khatoon

    I agree with Bilal- sitting at home and waiting for marriage should not be an option.

    And what happens when a girl sits at home and waits for marriage: innumerable prospective mothers and sisters in law descend on the girl’s households, are received with pomp and splendour, and served tea by an over-dressed and “sharmili” prospective daughter in law. But often the rejection is conveyed as soon as the “cindrella’s ma and sis” reach their house. Reasons are unkind and disgusting: the girl is not good looking; the girl is not tall; the girl is not Princess Diana (as they believe that their son/brother is the Prince of Wales); the family is not wealthy, the house is not big, they have a dog, the cat is too thin, the neighbourhood is a slum, etc. Takabbur at its highest- and they call themselves Muslims! No wonder they end up with a bahu who kicks the ** out of them!! And the saddest part is: in all this humiliation of their daughter, the parents are a willing party- busy in contacting illiterate and despicable “rishtey wali khala” and arranging (and paying for) the snacks to be served to the next series of “honourable guests”. More baighairat are the brothers who put up with all this humilaition of their sister- as when their turn comes, their own mother and sister would do the same.

    Talking of jahez- this is the title of another article
    Talking of the wedding ceremonies- yet another article

    Mr Ali says that this system (delivering for decades) of the East should not be shattered. Really? Do you want to uphold this? I feel it should be destroyed within minutes, not even hours. (Only that Mr Ali’s family will never be served snacks again).

    Lets get off from this Hindu society and plan a Muslim society- where the woman should be given the right to decide about education, employment and, especially, marriage. Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali


    I understand your point of view. Fathers work hard to see their kids happy and mothers bear all the hardships in the upbringing of their kids. It is their responsibility too and of course, it also has to do with the amount of affection they hold for their offspring. However, this certainly doesn’t mean they start owning their kids lives, leaving them with no choices. We’re all born with the right to makes choices. Parents must highlight what’s wrong and right, but in no way, they should force their absurd decisions on their child solely because of the fear of what ‘society’ would think.Recommend

  • shuja

    Komal Ali.I am a parent.I have two lovely daughters both well educated.To tell you the truth not all parents are not of the same mindset as you have described.We belong to a family abiding by all islamic customs.We allowed our highly qualified daughters to select subjects and careers of their choice which they successfully completed.I am sure most of our educated parents go the same way.The dilemma starts after marriage in our society.Some times inlaws and then bringing up of children comes their way.One thing is sure that the way mother can take care of her children no NANI or DADI can do it .Leaving children at daycare centres leaves much to be desired.Fortunately or unfortunately the daughters in most of the cases like my daughters have to leave the job at some stage.Coming back to dilemma pointed out by you is not the whole truth.In most of the cases parents allow their children to choose their own path.Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    Shuja, thank you for your comment. It is really great to know that you’ve given your children the liberty of decision-making. I’d like you to know that I never generalized all parents. At two points my article says ‘Many’ and ‘Few. I never used the word ‘all’ or ‘most’.
    As for the plight that starts after marriage, it shouldn’t. All girls should be able to make the choice about whether they want to work or not work. This decision should be made by them not their in-laws, husbands, or family.Recommend

  • Ali

    @Dear Komal Ali:

    you are a superb writter and i am a big fan of you but can’t comprehend your below statment,Parrents can make absurd decisions?

    “they should force their absurd decisions on their child solely because of the fear of what ‘society’ would think”Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    @Ali Thank you.

    ‘Parents must highlight what’s wrong and right, but in no way, they should force their absurd decisions on their child solely because of the fear of what ‘society’ would think.’

    This is the complete sentence.
    And I mean to say that all parents must teach their children to differentiate between the right and wrong. But they shouldn’t force upon their decisions on the kids. I have used to term absurd because to me forcing your kid to not choose the career he or she wants to choose is absurd. Similarly, not letting a girl work at a bank because of the fear of getting labeled from the society is also absurd. Hope you’re able to comprehend what I mean now.Recommend

  • Mariya

    Well i have a very different expereince. All my friends and class fellows only aim was to get married! Even when i was studying abroad, the girls around me were busy hunting for boys than jobs. They had no career plans even after getting an opportunity to study in top colleges.

    We no longer have those innocent girls who listen to their parents…they hide their lazy bums behind below statement

    ” ami abu want me to get married”Recommend

  • zia

    Still you are lucky, you have a lot to relish. You can’t imagine the miseries of a girl from a lower/poor class. These girls have no:

    access to Education (i don’t mean the quality Education).
    healthy food
    reasonable counseling or mentoring from elders
    appreciation of doing all the good household
    opportunities to prove their innate abilities and skills

    They are living an aimless and dull life, without any hope of change.
    You should be thankful that you have better circumstances than millions. Recommend

  • Zuhaib

    Komal! Your write ups r amazing and very sensitive in nature……Being a male…..M also the victim of ma parents’ overprotection Recommend

  • m waqas

    education should not career oriented and our women shold be allowed to study whatever they feel cofortable with .but the use and application of that education should be kept in mind . a girl is obviously going to get married and have kids and what benefit will accountacy bring to her kids if she cant even read Quran and do not have the basic knowldge of ISLAM . and our women’s ideal should be” um haatul momineen ” and not today’s western working class womenRecommend

  • http://none.moc BP

    So parents never sacrifice anything for their children? Just wait till you become one…

    Too, they have the right to make you desist from whatever. Since you people are so sold on the idea of getting your rights, why does giving others theirs seem suddenly difficult?Recommend

  • http://ahandfulofdust.wordpress.com/ Mariam

    Ahh…these stories sound familiar.Recommend

  • Mana

    You made a good point and i’m delighted that now people are thinking about changing the mindset of the people! To develop, we need this change!
    All parents care about is marrying off their daughters in respected families cause apparently after that life is nothing more than a stroll through a field full of flowers!
    Most parents live their life through their kids and the children are left with the burden of fulfilling their parents wishes!

    In an expo i was discussing with a class mate that we should work on changing how people think so that even female specialists can go to interior or not so developed parts of our country and help the people there. And he carelessly remarked k mind set change karne mai bohat waqt lagai ga, abhi bas larkoon ka seats quota increase honai do! WTH!-_-
    oh well, i got caught up in the moment…
    lovely article!Recommend

  • Aliyah

    I agree with most of the issues raised by komal. I reckon its rightful and justified as referring to women as the dumber and weaker sex when all their opportunities to explore themselves,excel and hone their skills are conveniently taken away from them and handed over to the male members of the workforce. Despite belonging to a family with a decent number of phd’s and deans and VC’s(and i am not exxagerating),the midset is pretty much the same.What i get a lot from my dad is “hamnay sari life admiyon kaisath kam kerke guzari hie aur trust me you dont want to be a victim of their sick mentality when it comes to working women). It’s very sad that women despite having true potential for fields such sales and marketing do not opt for such professions because they do not want to be labelled as “easy”since sales and marketing is considered more conducive for men. We have many examples of other professions where women are met with a glass-ceiling. I understand that all these decisions are taken by their parents bearing in mind the best of the child’s interest but the child doesn’t always live with the parents and has to be on his/her own one day.The husbands are not a 100% guarantee for the livelihood of the daughter. Besides why let your daughters immense talent get rusted with time.Recommend

  • Fatima

    Well, the situation is improving. I can see that by the way how conservative families originating from villages are starting to allow their girls to work, even in journalism or allowing them to pursue PhDs. Referring to “Sidra”‘s case, try not to automatically link all even with nationality. The truth is kids all over the world feel pressure when their parents want them to pursue a different field.

    Or how people IN villages let their girls work and teach to improve the village, this part I saw thanks to Fatima Memorial Hospital’s internship years ago.Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    BP, where in the article did I mention parents don’t sacrifice? Of course, they do. But sometimes indirectly they ask for bigger sacrifices from their kids. Letting your kids explore a few things on their own and letting them make choices is not too much to ask for, honestly. But, many parents in our part of the world are way too worried about society.

    Log kya kahenge?
    Duniya Kya kahege?

    Sigh. It’s time we snap out of it.Recommend


    u did an aweshum job….. creating awareness….. :) Recommend

  • Haider


    There are people who do that. I know some :p
    And by the way, it is still one of the most respected qualification of Pakistan which is pretty evident from its International Standing!Recommend

  • Saleha Ahmad

    I am so glad that you’ve addressed this issue, Komal. Hope people will understand that a change is mindset is essential. My request to all parents is to please stop giving a damn to society! Society won’t be there in your hard times. However, your kids will be. Recommend

  • Sidra Ilyas

    I believe that women should have the freedom to choose for themselves. It is a sad state of affairs in our country that nobody pays heed to the trauma of women as a whole.
    Thank you for highlighting this issue, Express Tribune. I hope people will learn something through this article.Recommend

  • Aneeqa

    i agree komal,
    but maybe its not their parents faults, its the society we should blame, who forces them to make such decisions.Recommend

  • deedee

    Get the hell outta pakistan!!! Then you can follow your dream of whatever you want to be! Cant blame parents for trying to be protective about their girls…lets face it..many places in pakistan is not very safe for girls to work in anymore.Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali


    Fortunately enough, you’re nobody to dictate where anyone should pursue their dreams. Being protective is one thing and being absurd is another. A woman can’t possibly be hurt if she opts for engineering or chartered accountancy over medical; a woman won’t bring shame to the family if she does an internship and step outside of the house.

    ‘Safety’ and ‘Security’ are only used as lame excuses to hide the ridiculous mentality that our society breeds. With the rising number of bomb blasts and violence in the country, even guys aren’t safe. Then why are mostly daughters not given chances to be what they want to be?Recommend

  • parvez

    By giving those examples you have made a forceful point. This subject is very complex and it is easy to be judgemental. Recommend

  • Cheryl

    Nice article, Komal. It is sad to see some girls unable to attain their dreams. It seems it is a mindset that will take some time to change. Unfortunately, it will take some girls to defy their parents and become successful to become role models for a younger generation. But on an exciting note, they could be history in the making!Recommend

  • Ummar

    its the general idea of raising a child in this society … even with guys … i dont say it isnt a valid scripture but i do have issues with the title. Why do you want to seclude girls from guys? As far as i know parents dictate and intervene in the lives of their of their daughters just as the do in the lives of their sons, well, the extent may vary from case to case and person to person.

    and i guess we all know why do they do it. we all want a girl sitting next to us in the office but it would be considered an insult to someone whom if i were to tell that his sister sits next to me in the office.its the general hypocrisy of the society of which the parents are mindful and sometimes in their strife to protect their daughters from being pointed at (leading to a social death) they do over-do it.

    but the times are changing and things are improving.its not a hopeless case if you ask me.Recommend

  • Paki in Caribbean

    Looking at the young boys of these days it’s better if girls take the lead and make the society better or much tolerant and free of violenceRecommend

  • Salman

    @Komal Ali: As someone who left Pakistan right after my Intermediate exams on my own and have lived in the US & UK for all of my adult life, I can tell you from personal experience that the teenagers in the West face different but equally compelling and difficult issues. Trust me, each region of the world have their own sets of challenges and opportunities. Challenges are no less heart-wrenching in one region than the other, and prospects are no less bright in one region than the other. That is the nature of Life. The Good Lord has made the universe thus. We make our own world and we live in it just like we make our own bed and sleep in it. You would be absolutely amazed at the extent of loneliness and depression in the West that is present only because it lacks what is rampant and excessively available in the East. What you are lamenting and have impressed so many, as is obvious from the comments, could also be a blessing in disguise. You write well, keep it up. Recommend

  • globalnomad

    @Naureen Mahmood: You are indeed lucky to have such parents, but how many of our girls have this. Let us talk about majority, trend and common practice. There are girls who would not even have the courage or are allowed to discuss what they like or want, things are decided for them first my parents elder in her families and then by husband and his family. Recommend

  • globalnomad

    @Komal Ali: could not agree more Komal, safety and security for girls is a loaded term and are used as and when people decide it for her. They becomes the girls fate and gods will when a girl is tortured by inlaws or a husband who does not love her. Here rarely her family rescues her at least not a general practice.Recommend

  • globalnomad

    @Ali Yaqoob: why not her??? that is the whole case when would SHE gets a voice?Recommend

  • Kanza

    Triple likes :)
    Well writtenRecommend

  • DreamerMK

    story of my life.
    or rather of many who live in a country with a mindset as conservative as the Pakistani nation. I am definitely not saying parents shouldnt look out for the better interests of their child but they should atleast open up their mind and see if they are taking the right approach in doing so. Also a common mistake parents make is not justifying any “order” they lay down. wouldnt it be better if they try to take the child in confidence and explain to him why a certain thing is not right for them? rather than just saying NO and taking it as an insult if the child questions why? and then is told to shut up as mentioned above. no offense but parents donot have the ilm of ghaib and cannot just judge what their ward should do on the basis of their own experience only. a human comes into this world with a right to free will and he should be allowed to exercise it, obviously within certain limits.Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    Sir, I know what you’re saying here. Guys in our society do face problems. However, the ratio of women suffering is much higher. And in this blog of mine, I have tried to highlight the plight of just young women.

    I respect your opinion, Salman. I left Pakistan right after my matriculation and lived in the United States for a year on my own. I also know about the challenges that are faced by the youth in the countries you’ve mentioned. Challenges are everywhere at every step of life.

    But issues like these that you call challenges need to be addressed and resolved. This oppressive attitude because of a primitive mindset needs to come to an end so women too have the right to make the basic decisions about their lives.

    For God’s sake women are not some animals. They are humans with emotions and a brains.Recommend

  • Yamna Hassan

    This is such a biased and one sided article. I believe the writer herself is pretty immature.Recommend

  • Mariam Butt

    The article gives you a glimpse of the worst cases in our day to day life! What I believe the author missed are the cases where girls ARE allowed to choose a career and work by their parents, yet they face problems. Many of my friends and I are probably in the same boat, who were allowed to get their higher education and were even permitted to work in multinationals etc, but because we live in a society where a girl is supposed to be married/engaged in her early 20’s, we suffer either way. Even after being successful and accomplishing a lot by following dreams, we have to compromise because of the typical mind-set of our society. Either we are perceived as ‘old’ or a lil too ‘modern’ Recommend

  • S Minhaj Zafer

    To the Parents,

    Life is nothing but the “BALANCE SHEET/SUM OF DECISIONS“.
    If we as parents don’t let our children take simple decisions or complex ones (with their knowledge & our guidance). How well have we prepared them, to make the right decisions?
    Start young, let them take decisions to EAT, DRESS & PLAY.( Give Freedom)
    In adolescence let them take decisions to STUDY, to INTERN, to be FRIENDS with (keep an eye).
    They will for sure make some wrong decisions, but U are there, counsel & guide them, and then a time would come where they would be taking the right decisions.
    This confidence of U being there, would enable them to make a right choice. Have confidence in them.
    A fact “YOUR children are ahead of YOU”.
    “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence than is not an act but HabitRecommend

  • sadaf bashir

    True face of parents…i have few examples in my family i wonder when parents will change their mind set !!!Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Why am I not surprised that the only objections and stupid replies about ‘you don’t appreciate your parents’ are coming from men! ;)Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    @Mariam Butt:
    Your points are very valid. Though, I believe that’s a whole different topic.
    I wanted to highlight the parents’ role in this one. I might write another article about the issue you’ve highlighted. Thanks for adding the points.Recommend

  • http://www.flickr.com/ameerhamza Ameer Hamza

    No wonder we are so far behind in all aspects and so many youngsters are disillusioned about our societal norms. Recommend


    KOMAL……thanks a lot betay to register such a generic issue of most cared parenting that at times spoil children talent and instinct interest……..though a renowned bolly wood actor ‘Aamir khan ‘ has tried a lot make parents realized about prospective decisions for their children……..but still things are as conventional as our parents had in their time but now we all prospective parents and young also young parents should have a broad mind set to make our children to be themselves having chosen the field of interest can really excite them and can prove them a real value added person to this planet…………..change and a positive change is the need of time…………and we we’ll bring this Insha Allah………..I request all potentials paernts to please consider and value the dreams and interest of their childern to set the exxample of giving childern what they deserve to have…………………….

    KOMAL………peole like you in fact think tanks like can really give a tought for a change……..keep it up……..stay blessed
    By the way i’m also a victim for such extra cared parenting………..;)Recommend

  • Madiha Abbasi

    yes this chauvinism specially paternal is merely a normal phenomenon of our society.Parents mostly Father with conservative thoughts regarding daughters exist in this society.They are so_ called educated under the influence of brutal thoughts.No one can argue with them because they act stubbornly,considering whatever they are doing is perfectly all right.
    It is a bitter fact that can bring tears to one’s eyes who is going through the similar plight!
    Amazing writer u wrote well. it is true and bitter fact.
    All i need to say parent need to wake up now.May ALLAH give us courage to spread awareness.Aameen!Recommend

  • Pensive

    If you have children, REMEMBER THEY DESERVE A RIGHT TO GROW THE HELL UP. they are not your clones, your playthings or mindless objects. they WILL have different experiences and points of view and become SEPARATE people with SEPARATE ideas and personalities than you. YOUR job is to give them a good set of rules/ethics/morals to follow and THAT’S IT. your narcissism leads you to become oppressive tyrants, micromanaging aspects of their lives you have NO RIGHT over. BACK. OFF.
    if you’re worried about your kids, be they sons or daughters, FIRST TEACH THEM TO SURVIVE. people like YOU made our society the mess it is today. people who harass their daughters by treating them like sex objects or burdens on their shoulders and turn their sons into corrupt weaklings to give into the pressures of somehow making it big as fast as they can, no matter how many corners they have to cut. because YOU tolerated these sick mental attitudes for so long, look around you. now you fear the world you have made. your isolating your offspring from going out and battling these evils head on isn’t the solution. send them out there. DEAL WITH IT.
    how is making your child frustrated and depressed going to help YOU? do you think they will ever think of your as their inspiration? will they adore you? will they respect you like you never respected them? will they open up to you? will they want to include you in what their lives will bring them? the answer, probably, is NO.

    and for the record? i AM a ‘bad beti’. because if there’s one thing my parents may regret giving me is the inability to put up with what my heart knows is WRONG. they may not like that i step out of the house to engage and challenge any obstacles in my way, but somehow: i think somewhere behind those disapproving frowns on their faces, may be a little bit of a proud smile. keep fighting.Recommend

  • Tamoor Baloch

    I Think writer is doing good job but in my opinion u have also talked about some of parents (What feelings of parents) that would expressed another mindset of society in ur next blog . keep it upRecommend

  • SEB

    pathetic useless article with incomplete picture largely ignoring the other side of the story “parents”… to give you an example, do you know what working hours go into chartered accountancy articleship/training? so what’s wrong if those parents wished a reasonable work schedule for their daughter? guys chip in 9am to 2am shifts for atleast 8-10 years and I have had female colleagues in finance who start whining after 6pm even though their families are not really bothered by their late night engagements with friends… totally one-sided and biased article as one would expect from an amateur itching to just write without giving it due respect…Recommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    That’s the point. Parents shouldn’t choose what their daughters want to do. I know successful and happy female chartered accountants as well. As for your friends who ‘whine’ about their jobs, I would say at some level, everyone complains about their work. However, if your friends do it regularly, then perhaps there is a problem with your friends not females working in the finance or accounts field. For God’s sake, women were not born with decided future. The point is they must have the freedom to choose what they want to do.Recommend

  • Pinky

    I think this article makes a very solid point.
    All those who think it’s biased are averting from the bitter reality. WOMEN NEED TO HAVE THE FREEDOM OF DECISION MAKING!Recommend

  • Urooj

    Nicely written article, author. I am sure many women can relate to the trauma you’ve described.
    Some major steps need to be taken before it’s too late and the situation gets more miserable.
    I hope all parents read this and realize the small mistakes that cause big troubles to their kids in future.Recommend

  • Shafaq

    I can relate so well to this article.
    I belong to an upper middle class family too and the number of restrictions put on me and my sisters are far more than my brothers. Even though I got admission in NED university, my parents still forced me to do private B.A.
    Now all I do is Facebook and Chatting or looking after kitchen. Not allowed to go out with friends either.Recommend

  • Nasreen Ghori

    Stepping out of home is really difficult but it does not mean to suffocate someone’s talent. Parents may guide but they should not control the lives of their children. How can parents decide with whom I can be friends or not. esp those parents who educate their daughters (and sons too) should make themselves flexible and have trust on them. They can discuss pros and cons with their children to understand each other point of view and decide collectively, not just imposing a decision as final authority.

    Today’s educated women (girls) are strong enough to take care of themselves and with parent’s trust they can do it better

    The reason is, despite being educated and developed ‘feudalism’ is still deep rooted in our society, and minds. The women used to be treated as property or possession of men, fathers or husbands and they are considered the same today. and this article is showing just some examples of this. Recommend

  • Sonali Mukesh

    I am from India and while reading this article even I could relate to the plight that a women goes through in the Indo-Pak region. Though much development has been taken place, women still have to go through this torture from parents due to societal bounds. Recommend

  • SEB

    @Komal Ali: yet another amateur response without trying to understand the complete picture. ok i am a parent and now tell me how do i convince myself to accept my daughter’s choice of CA as a career and resulting long shifts given the situation in Pakistan especially regarding violence against women??

    I fully support the idea of women progress and empowerment, and I have been pushing for it in my family too… the only point i have been trying to make is that its a one-sided article having asked only daughters’ point of view and nothing from parents side…Recommend

  • saeed iqbal

    nice yar i like itRecommend

  • http://komalali10.blogspot.com/ Komal Ali

    ‘resulting long shifts given the situation in Pakistan especially regarding violence against women??’

    You answered the question yourself. Like I said parents care more about societal bounds than what would make their children happy. Just because you presumed your daughter WOULD be violated, you think she shouldn’t be allowed to work as a CA.
    Well, ma’am with all due respect, violence isn’t just in the Accounting field. It’s EVERYWHERE in Pakistan. Street violence? How about you lock your daughter up inside the house? Because street violence is the most common form of violence against women in Pakistan.

    ‘its a one-sided article having asked only daughters’ point of view and nothing from parents side…’

    I mentioned that parents given in to societal norms. That explains their side of the story as you just confirmed by your statement:’i am a parent and now tell me how do i convince myself to accept my daughter’s choice of CA as a career and resulting long shifts given the situation in Pakistan especially regarding violence against women??’

    Ma’am, let your daughter choose for herself. Even if she’d later consider that a mistake, she will learn something from it. You won’t be there all her life to make decisions and as you’d say ‘choose the right’ for her. Recommend

  • Anadil

    excellent article….u just forgot to add one thing-after mentally torturing us girls,parents claim to make it up by giving us truckload of dowry…..and that dowry too is a measure of social standing but parents claim that it will ease out marital lifeRecommend

  • Momina

    awesome. very very well written. it’s one of the many issues that fail to show themselves openly in the society, why ever daughter suffer more than sons is beyond me!
    hats off!!!Recommend

  • Sara

    This is so sad but it tell the story of my life. My parents aren’t bad people but they are stuck in their traditions. I have been miserable for most of my college career because my parents want me to pursue a medical degree. I do admire and see the benefit of being a doctor but in my heart really want to be an engineer, but my parents keep telling me that it is not a job for women and have have struggled in school and in life to try and convince them but its just not working.. ps im not even Pakistani..Recommend

  • MAD


    No Usman parents do not neccessarily know whats best. They tend to live in the past.Recommend

  • pardesi

    dear komal

    a daughter in pakistan is not just a burden. It is the worst ever curse on the daughter herself.Recommend