Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Free-will marriages in Pakistan

Marriage is a tough matching problem under any circumstances, but women who wish to choose their own spouse in Pakistan may face special problems, although progress is being made: Defying Parents, Some Pakistani Women Risk All to Marry Whom They Choose

"Though some form of arranged marriage remains the most common way for Pakistanis to find spouses, marriage without the consent of a woman’s guardian was legalized in 2003. The change in the law has created a larger opening for many women to claim their independence, using the courts and the local news media.
"The tactics have given more visibility to a problem long considered largely a private matter.

Things are changing; the girls are becoming bolder, they are continuously taking steps, and they are not afraid to die,” said Mahnaz Rahman, resident director of the Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organization active throughout Pakistan. “They know that they will be killed, but even then they are taking these steps because they can’t conform to the values of their parents. They are the girls of this modern age.”

"When a woman disagrees with her parents’ choice of husband, she has few options, Ms. Rahman said. If she wants to marry someone else, the two must elope and leave the family home behind. By leaving the home, though, the daughter is considered to have dishonored her family, and that is where culture, custom and the legal system intersect with retribution.

"Parents frequently press kidnapping charges to regain control of a renegade daughter. Such cases can engulf entire families, as the police will often seize property and detain relatives of the accused man."

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