Stories about child-marriage

Rasm over rights: Why is the nikkahnama woven with inequality towards women?

Shaadi (marriage) is perhaps the most cherished tradition in Pakistani culture, a gathering of levity and simultaneous importance and an event which many deem to be the most significant in their lives. For women in Pakistan, the latter is often the case since marriage bounds them to a contract that is deliberately created to disadvantage them. The institution of marriage has been weaponised by the male-dominated religious lobby in Pakistan to systematically disenfranchise women into a life that is decided by their significant other. The most integral part of this system is the nikkahnama (marriage certificate). For many married couples, the nikkahnama is at best an afterthought in the marriage festivities, ...

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“Not sons, they are my daughters”

There is almost nothing Aamir Khan touches that does not turn into gold. Not just a shiny, yellow plating but a burnished, solid bar. There is no denying the fact that he is a genius and in this advertisement, he proves it yet again. It is poignant, and it is sweet. It touches upon an age-old, bitter dispute delicately, albeit tentatively. The constant war fought, particularly in the sub-continent, for women’s rights and against male chauvinism continues to grow increasingly aggressive with each generation. In my opinion, it has escalated to the extent that it has desensitised many from both ...

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I was 16 when I was forced to marry a stranger and move to Canada

When I was a kid, my only goal was to get a good education. I dreamt of attending Harvard or Stanford, and planned to become a doctor one day. I was the eldest of four daughters in a Pakistani Muslim family. We lived in Ruwais, a small town in the United Arab Emirates, where my father worked in an oil plant and my mother was a teacher. At school, I always stood out among the girls in my class—I was brash, clever, outspoken. I took pride in acing every test. When I brought home top marks, my father would ...

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Is Sammi the new Udaari?

In Pakistan, there has always been a social stigma attached to discussing taboo social issues such as sexual abuse, child marriage, and marital rape. These are topics that we do not discuss, but are well-aware of its prevalence in the society. People just sweep these topics under the rug and refuse to come out of their bubble and face the reality. The media has now taken the initiative to highlight these issues openly despite the opposition from some segments of the audience. Sammi, the new offering by Hum TV, addresses another social issue called ‘vani’ which many of us are not aware ...

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Child marriage is a misinterpreted and cruel practice that reeks of ignorance

“And Prince Charming and Cinderella got married and they lived happily ever after”… She shut the book and jumped around with blissful glee. Cinderella was her favourite character and she had gotten married too. Mother had given her the news only yesterday. On her next birthday, she would be a bride, just like Cinderella. Cinderella’s wedding dress was white and puffy with beautiful flowers sown on it. So would be hers. Cinderella’s dainty shoes sparkled brightly. So will hers. Hundreds of people in fancy dresses attended Cinderella’s wedding. Her own wedding was to be attended by almost the entire village ...

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Thari culture, palla fish, Bombay bakery and my meethi journey through rural Sindh

Quiet recently, I joined a small group of close friends on a trip to Tharparkar, Sindh. The three of us reached Karachi by air and went to Hyderabad by road, where two other group members joined us. The five of us started our journey to Tharparkar via Badin. Our first stop was at Mithi, the district headquarters, where we experienced the first taste of hospitality by a Hindu friend’s family, who despite being vegetarians had prepared meat for us with various other delicious vegetables. After enjoying the scrumptious meal, we continued our journey onwards to Nangarparkar. On our way to Nangarparkar we ...

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To the teen moms of rural Punjab

 A teenager’s angst at not being able to conceive is not something many of us are familiar with. “Why should it surprise me, though?” I thought to myself, as I overheard the conversation between my mother and this teenager. We were in our village home where she had come to pay my mother a visit. Her pale skin, devoid of any youthful glow, was sticking tightly to her small bone structure, making her look malnourished. She must be around 16 or 17-years-old, but she’s been married for a couple of years. “I have been to the gynaecologist, and I’m not sure what kind of problem ...

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The rusty water

In the utmost silence of the dark room, he pulled the journal out from the drawer trying not to make a sound. The dust on the jacket of the cover forced him to scrunch up his nose as he withheld a sneeze. After recovering, he sat on his bedside with the journal in his lap. Under the dim moonlight beaming through the window, he began reading. June 9, 1946 Dear Diary, I think we will finally be able to stay permanently in Khushkot. Our dear uncle came last night with some official papers and Abbu had signed them. This is great news! ...

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The horrors of China’s one-child policy

China’s famous one-child policy was meant to be used as a mechanism to control a heaving population, even though it drew much criticism for the draconian method in which it was enforced. Add to the mix a cultural reliance on men being breadwinners and women being a burden on families and, soon enough, a gender imbalance of grotesque proportions started to emerge.The overly populated male population led to the relaxing of the rules by the Chinese government which now allows two children per couple. However, this hasn’t alleviated the problems being faced by a large, male population. There are reports of whole villages being populated by men and women ...

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Who thought Nawaz Sharif would turn out to be a bigger liberal than Imran Khan?

Is this really Nawaz Sharif? The religious-right choked on their tea when Nawaz Sharif shared his vision of a more ‘liberal’ Pakistan during a speech to the international business community in late 2015. Some thought he misspoke. Others felt he was pandering. When hours later, in response to the anger, the Pakistani prime minister clarified his statement, it seemed like Nawaz was caving in. But, no. Over the course of his leadership, it has become clear that rather than deep frying, Nawaz Sharif believes in slow roasting a chicken. In this hyperventilating country, perhaps this is what Pakistan needs. Case in point: When Imran Khan ...

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