In Pakistan, more and more women are choosing to defy their parents and family by choosing to run away and marry on their own.
Risking their honor and even their life.
A recent article on HuffPost talked about Nustrat Mochi, now 25, who eloped with her husband four years ago. They have since moved twice and has kept the location of their homes a secret to escape threats to their lives and their two small children and even a kidnapping charge against her husband.
Another article from The Express Tribune reported that a couple, Almas Khan and Shamim Akhtar, were killed in Chakwal, Punjab, over the weekend of Id al-Fitr, the holiday ending Ramadan. Ms. Akhtar’s father had filed a kidnapping case with the police after the couple eloped. The family contacted their daughter and her husband, saying the pair would be forgiven if they returned. When they complied, they were shot and their bodies strung from a tree.
In England, Shafilea Ahmed, 17, was killed by her own parents when she defied her parents’ wish for an arranged marriage with a much older man in Pakistan. At one time, she drank bleach and run away from home. Her parents believed that she has “shamed” their family with her actions. Her decomposing body was found in a nearby river in February of 2004.
The families of these women feel that these circumstances warrant “Honor Killings”.
Human Rights Watch defines Honor Killing as:
Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that "dishonors" her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.
In 2003, Pakistan's highest court of law, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, ruled that an adult female Muslim was entitled marry any man of her own free will without having to obtain the consent of her guardian. The court also declared that a Muslim female, upon reaching the age of 18, was not required to seek the permission of her guardian or father to enter into a valid contract of marriage, and that a testimony made by the couple was sufficient proof of marriage.
The passing of this law caused more and more women in Pakistan to defy the tradition of arranged marriage and marry on their own. However, this defiance usually leaves a woman with no choice but to elope and leave her family. A sad irony, because in Pakistani culture, leaving a family and defying your parents is considered dishonorable. In this case, these women, who are by rights allowed to marry based on the law, become target of honor killings by their relatives.
Which I think is wrong, barbaric and unacceptable.
Everyone has earned the right to love, to be free and to be happy.
And though I accept the fact the it’s hard to interfere with cultural practices deeply rooted with one’s religious beliefs, people should continue to fight for freedom and educate one another about personal rights and equality.
Women are not property. Marriage is a personal choice. No one has the right to dictate anyone who to love and how to love. And it should never be right to take anyone’s life for honor.
Marriage is the only war where one sleeps with the enemy.