The Trauma of Marriage in the Patriarchal Culture of Pakistan

In our culture when a man starts earning to fulfill his own needs, he is eligible to search a girl to get married to start a comfortable life with her. Apparently he thinks he is getting married ; in other words he is looking for a girl from a decent family, educated to some extent, good looking with fair complexion, can cook for the whole family, can serve him from day till night, can obey him in every matter, leave her parental family forever, and bear his nature at any cost! He needs a lifelong servant in the name of a wife whom he could beat, curse, humiliate, degrade, dictate, abuse and divorce anytime with no obligation and guilt. Being entirely independent financially, economically, secure from each perspective, and influential in the conservative society of Pakistan, he could bring his dream girl home and treat her as per his own rules and principles.

The alternatively, girls seek no job at all in their young age and entirely depend on their future ‘Man’ whether he is worth considering or not. In other words, they seek a job;  a job in which one feels degraded, humiliated and abused on daily basis; a job in which you receive a bed to sleep, food to eat, and a set pattern of life to live according to someone else’s wishes and desires; a job in which you are supposed to do whatever your partner is asking for without any hesitation or reluctance; a job in which you are easily dismissed even after 50 years of work experience; a job in which there is no reason to say ‘no’ to carry out what your boss is asking for; a job with no set rules and principles; a job in which you can’t expect any thing from your boss in return; a job in which you are Not allowed to move without the permission of your boss; a job in which you are not allowed to take rest whenever you feel tired; a job in which no one considers you on job even; a job that pays ‘nothing’ and demands a full time work without any holiday; and a job that is known as ‘ house wife’ in the whole wide world. In addition to the facts described above, one can hardly think there is something wrong with it.

After marriage, girls totally depend on their husbands financially, emotionally, socially, physically and psychologically. So their needs can be easily threatened and manipulated by the one and only caretaker- The Husband. He becomes the master and slaves ask for help always.The happiness and safety of the slaves always remain in the hands of the master. And the master enjoys his superiority and masculinity through establishing various principles of traditions, honor, and values to manipulate things for his sake.

Should this be the way of life? Should women seek a proper job to feed them or a ‘man’ to rule over them in the name of protection and safety? Should the men marry any girl of their choice without having the consent of the girl? should women sacrifice their lives in the name of honor or traditions? Should men tell their daughters to face all abuses and stay in an abusive relationship at all cost? Should men not help women in the kitchen to maintain their superiority and masculinity? Should women allow their boys to learn some house chores to help their wives in future? SHOULD WE NOT BE CONCERNED ABOUT THESE MATTERS EVEN IN THE MOST MODERN ERA OF THIS CENTURY

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ABUSE IN DISGUISE

According to wikipedia, “Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mentalabuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder” and Any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth (for more info see http://www.vchreact.ca/read_psychological.htm)

Emotional and Psychological abuse includes:

  •      Telling someone they are worthless,
  • Telling them no one else wants them,
  • Forcing someone to do things at an exact time or in an exact way,
  • Undermining a persons actions, thought and beliefs,
  • Telling someone they are weak and could not manage to look after themselves on their own,
  • Making someone believe they are mad,
  • Telling someone that the domestic violence and abuse is their fault.
  • Not allowing someone to have visitors,
  • Controlling who a person is friends with,
  • Not allowing them to go out,
  • Not allowing someone to see their family and friends,
  • Not allowing someone to be left alone with other people,
  • Not allowing someone to use the phone, send letters or emails.
  • Locking someone in a room or house,
  • Not allowing someone to go out to work, not allowing someone to go to college or evening classes,
  • Accompanying someone everywhere that they go in order to keep control over what they do, who they see and what they say.
  • Telling someone they are a bad parent,
  • Getting children to say and do things to upset someone,
  • Encouraging children to get involved in the abuse.
  • Abusing someone’s children or pets,
  • Damaging possessions,
  • Accusing someone of lying when they are not,
  • Telling someone they are fat, ugly and useless,
  • Making someone believe that no one else likes them.
  • Threatening to harm someone, or to harm their children or pets.
  • Threatening to have someone locked up saying that they are mad,
  • Threatening to have someone deported or withholding care if someone is aged, ill or disabled,
  • Telling someone they will find and kill them if they leave,
  • Threatening to abuse someone in front of their children, family or friends.

Emotional abuse is often difficult to recognise. It can be very subtle, often being overlooked by a person’s friends and family. The person affected may not even think or feel that abuse is taking place.

Emotional abuse can affect women and children experiencing it in many ways. It can leave deep psychological scars and can seriously damage the self-confidence of the person experiencing the abuse. For more information see:

http://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk

In most of the cultures of this world, abuse is simply not even recognized as abuse, rather considered a moral and spiritual duty of the women towards their husbands. Usually husbands and in-laws use all kinds of abuses towards their daughter-in-laws. In most of the emotional and psychological abuses, women are exposed to, women are simply not aware of the fact that they are being abused on daily basis. one can easily recognize the forms of subtle and traumatic abuses from such examples:

  1. women are restricted towards visitors, visiting family and friends, and going out in general.
  1. women are required to perform a set of duties at a particular time, in a specific way, and according to someone’s special needs whether they like it or not.
  1. women are under estimated in their capability to earn, to stay alone, and to manage the finances alone. In all important matters of life, they are not listened even!
  1. women are expected  to follow the customs and rituals of society blindly, irrespective of the fact that many of them create severe depression, anxiety and stress in turn. For example: traditions designed to feel women less empowered like rukhsati, karo kari, and others.
  1. women are also expected to live according to their husbands sweet wishes. It would include any thing from having more than 12 children in less than 12 years, to being childless in 20 years of married life! It includes everything from having full cocktail hijab to bikini style beach dress! All depend upon a man- the husband.
  1. women are taken as sex objects in some of the culures – so they are no more free to move freely.
  1. Women are never given identity of their own name: at first they are identified with the name of their father and then after marriage they are recognized on behalf of their husbands good names!

In most of the areas of Pakistan, women are treated as if they are not human at all. Their identity, respect and worth are of no value when they are being brought up. So much so, they are not well protected, fed, and secured in their own parents’ kingdom. As a result, they become victims of trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, and many other psychological and emotional disorders. Well, they are not aware of this fact that they are being abused and it is a crime in the dictionary of Law. It is a blessing in disguise as if they knew it, their stress would be doubled!