divorce in pakistan
Why women can't get out of bad marriages in Pakistan

Komal Babar Khan

Recently, a suicide-note of a woman made rounds on the internet. The note shows the desperation of the woman, who was stuck in an unhappy marriage and had torturous in-laws but couldn’t seem to do anything about it. She clearly mentioned in her last note that she had no one to talk to and nowhere to go, which is why she ended up taking her own life. The hopelessness is clearly being reflected from the woman’s letter.

Divorce is considered a ‘big taboo’ in Pakistani society, where marriage is thought to be a woman’s only purpose in life. People expect a woman to adjust in her in-laws and do all she can to make the marriage work. Daughters are usually taught to ‘compromise’ at a very young and early age solely because parents prepare them for their lives after marriage. Parents feel like marriage is a protective measure for their daughters. But what if it’s not? What if she does not feel free around the house? What if she is not treated the way she deserves to? What if she gets suicidal thoughts over and over again just because she has to keep the name of her brother and father or family.

Walking out of an unhappy marriage is a solution, as Islam gives the right to do too. But it isn’t possible for everyone. Not all women have supportive households they can return to. Besides, a divorced woman is continuously told that she is an additional burden on her parents and wasn’t good enough to make a marriage work. Things are twisted, and it automatically becomes a woman’s fault.

The label of divorce follows her around like a shadow, always beside her, in every decision she makes, everywhere she goes. She is not even considered as a person of a society because of the divorce.

All of this doesn’t end here; people do all they can to make sure they bash the divorcee. She is given all the negative comments in this world, ‘tum he jukh jaati, bardasht kr leti’ or ‘ajkal ki larkiyon key nakhrey hi boht hein’, the list goes on and on. A divorced woman is expected to not continue her life in a normal way once again because ‘Talaq k baad bhi is key pair sathvey asman py hein’.

Most parents do not tell their daughters that despite society and the typical mindset, they will accept their daughter if she feels like she can’t put up with her marriage anymore because she is a part of them. Instead, the daughter is told that the doors of her parents’ houses are PERMANENTLY closed for her. Often after someone gets married, she’s told “Jahan tumhaari doli ja rahe hai, ab wahan se tumhara janaza he nikalna chahiye”.

Here’s something that every parent should be told; a divorced daughter is better than a dead daughter. It is okay if your daughter had a failed marriage, even when the society tells you it is not. Life doesn’t end with a wedding, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Please, don’t leave your daughter helpless after she moves into her husband’s house; otherwise, the hopelessness and desperation can make them take their own life. We need to put a full stop to treating divorce as a taboo and divorcee as aliens. The tradition of telling girls that they have no option of coming back needs to end, or we will lose more of our daughters to suicide.