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‘I Truly Believe What My Parents Did To Me Was Wrong’: Sindhi Youth On Arranged Marriage

Should the people in Pakistan, or in any other male-dominant society, give importance to their child’s say in marital matters?

There seems to be a clash between traditional values and the modern world and that has puzzled Pakistan’s younger generation. Despite a change in mindsets, the youth continues to reluctantly follow old trends and ways of life.

In several parts of Sindh, parents usually have the final say on who their son or daughter would marry. Most youngsters are in favor of such traditions, but there is a growing cadre which has started to oppose such practices.

Kabeer, a resident of Sindh, who is set to marry the girl of his parents’ choice says he did not know of his marriage until everything was decided by his family members.

“When I was 16, my father fixed my marriage without my consent. He accepted a proposal on my behalf, without my knowledge. Given that the proposal came from the family in which my sister is married, there was no possibility of a refusal. Such practices are common in Sindh and are known as ‘Badhoo’, which roughly translates to ‘give and take’.”

“But I am not an isolated case. Three of my siblings – one brother and two sisters – had no say in who they wanted to marry. Therefore, there wasn’t a possibility that I would resist a similar fate. I truly believe what my parents did to me was wrong. I should have been asked before they made a move. Nonetheless, I will have to get married according to their wishes to uphold the family reputation.”

In the third year of his Bachelor’s degree, Kabeer entered into a relationship with a class fellow, who belonged to a different religion. Not only would he have to give up on the person he loves, but he would also have to marry someone he does not know.

“I don’t believe arranged marriages can build understanding and trust. When I was in third-year at my University, I entered into a serious relationship with a girl from a different religious background. Though I could not care less, her religious affiliation is unacceptable for my family. It is my constitutional right to live as I desire. According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference’ and ‘everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression’. Children should have the right to express their will,” Kabeer added.

Kabeer also believes that arranged marriages are ‘a cruel tradition’.

But not everyone shares similar sentiments. Many consider it an obligation to say ‘YES’ to their parents’ will. They believe parents will always do what’s in the best interests of their children and that they deserve to be obeyed for all the sacrifices they have offered throughout the years.

Though noble, the above sentiments are more emotional than rational. Wouldn’t it be in the best interests of the children if parents allow them to choose their life partners?

After all, two people tied in a marital relationship are expected to spend a lifetime together. Imagine spending it with someone you were never willing to in the first place.

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