Salma, a 28-year-old woman, lives in my neighbourhood. She is a beautiful and ‘young’ lady who wants to get married a soon as possible. On asking the reasons for the holdup, she defines herself in a totally weird way.
Some of them being: ‘over-aged’, ‘not-so-fair-coloured’ and ‘small house of 10 marlas’. This is not only the story of Salma but there are several other such girls who are advancing in years with their yen for marriage growing faint in their hearts.
There has been set a trend, not only in Pakistan but in entire South Asia, of rejecting girls on the basis of insignificant limitation. First of all, the custom itself has many faults in it. The tradition observes a visit to girl’s place for ‘Rishta’ by a group mostly consisting of women from boys’ side.
In some families, the whole family consisting of ama, abba, chacha, Chachi, mamu and all those relations of a boy come to ‘see’ the girl. The girl’s family welcomes them and serves them with the best they can. Then the girl is ‘exhibited’ in front of the whole family.
They well-examine her from tip to toe and then leave. After that girl’s family receive a phone call that they are not willing to tie a knot with your girl for ‘some’ reasons. The reasons are really extremely objectionable and off-putting.
In Pakistan, a girl is reckoned ‘over-aged’ after 25. Statistics suggest that a well amount of age is spent in getting higher education at least up to M.phil level. What do you else expect? Pursuing a higher degree and remain at 20 or getting married at an early age and remain lowbrow since studying after marriage is almost impossible for most of the girls.
Considering marriage as the sole purpose of a girl’s life is another aspect but education acting as a barrier in girl’s Rishta is yet another pathetic dilemma of society in South Asia. Local extended families take the girl more as a ‘product’ and less as a ‘daughter-in-law’. They demand the girl to be under 25, highly educated, beautiful or more specifically fair-coloured and above all she must belong to a well-settled affluent family.
The class difference is, in fact, a condemnatory matter in establishing marital relationships. People rummage for such rights where they can easily park the car inside the house. Hence, the girls from upper-class families are less affected by the problems in this regard as ‘materialism’ covers everything. As time passes, the demand of materialism is topping the list.
The reason behind this selfish demand is not only having a high-profile approach in society but also because it drags a lavish dowry along with a bride. Consequently, girls from lower and middle-class families are more likely to suffer from this social virus. The question is not only the rising demands of Rishta-walls but also their unjust eligibility criterion. The moral values and character have got to be less expensive in the market.
In fact, they are prone to be neglected. This is the major cause for the short-termed and failed marriages. After all, the extensive dowry and high-status cannot bring forth the compromise and understanding between the spouses. The major cause of delayed and failed marriages in Pakistan is the deep involvement of women in this custom of finding the right matches for their boys.
Decades ago, men settle these issues in bilateral conversation outside the homes and matrimony was sorted out in this way. Even at the time of Prophet (PBUH), men were the ones to bring the proposals and they were the ones to accept or reject it. The girls were not ‘exhibited’ that time as show-case piece to be rejected on minor terms.
The growing demands of Rishta-wales make the masses of girls remain sit at the door-step of their parents while the stretches of silver lining shine on their heads. They are falling prey to strange complexity in this materialistic society that worships money and whose goals are focused on wealth, possessions, image and status.