How patriarchy kills girls’ dreams by forcing them into marriage
By AS Siddiqui
The world is slowly unlearning years and years of discriminatory behaviour as the suppressed minorities have finally found their voice through social media. Despite rampant racism, sexism, hate, and bigotry instilled in their DNA, the society is finally coming to accept the differences that have kept women from having the same opportunities and benefits as men.
History is witness to the achievements of women from all around the world who have proven that men and women are equal in almost every way other than the biological differences and even in that case women are able to endure much more.
However, the Pakistani patriarchal society is unwilling to even acknowledge the sexism that continues to damage the lives of women in the country.
In Pakistan, a girl is perceived to have only one purpose to her existence – to get married to a man. Anything other than that is only a hobby until she finally manages to find a husband.
In the most stereotypical families, the parents of a girl start preparing for her wedding from the time she is born and continue to offer incentives to the in-laws after the nuptials in order to keep the marriage safe.
Most girls are restricted from having dreams and goals that may not be related to homemaking because what is the purpose of all that reading, studying, and having thoughts of being an individual when in the end, they’ll be forced to be only mother and a housewife.
My sister was told that the last 3 years she had spent studying Psychology at university had only been allowed to keep her occupied. My parents forced her to drop-out before her final year to get married in 6 months. When we resist and fight for our rights, we are threatened and often attacked – verbally and physically. We are belittled and become hopeless to the point where we accept this norm as the only reality.
All my life, the women I know have stood by me and lifted me, sometimes with an explicit courage while the other times in a hidden-behind-their-own bars of societal pressure.
But I’m at a loss for words every time I see a female friend hurting because of the continuous attacks by this worn-out institution of marriage.
Recently, a friend shared how discouraged she was that her family was pestering her every day about finding a “rishta” at a time when she was excited about reaching an important new level in her career.
But it doesn’t matter to them whether we become mathematicians, athletes, artists, or doctors until we don’t have the protection of a man over, around, and above us.
Parents worry what will happen to their daughters once they are no longer alive as guardians, so they transfer the ownership of their daughters like they’re an object or property, to a man who is financially stable and seems sane on the outside.
Often, most ambitious women are told not to be overachievers or opt for higher education because it will become difficult to find a good match for them. They are told to dumb-down for men who are satisfied with average performance in every aspect of their life.
The fight for our independence and women’s right to live as we want is the type that will leave one brittle – emotionally and mentally but in the end the freedom and the experiences are all worth it.