Arranged marriages outmatch love marriages -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Arranged marriages outmatch love marriages

ISLAMABAD: The overall ratio of love marriages in Pakistan is 2.25 per cent, whereas the prevalent customary practice across the country is of arranged marriages (63.4 per cent), followed by walver (involving payment of bride price; 14.87 per cent) and exchange marriages (watta satta 10.9 percent), according to a recent study.

The research titled ‘Women’s Right of Inheritance and its Implications’ launched by the National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) says that these figures were a reflection of clear negation of women’s right to select their life partner.

While discussing the customary practices that challenge most of the women (50.66 per cent) from getting their right of inheritance, the report points out that the marriage system prevalent in the country adds to the impact of these socio-cultural traditions.

It says that family system in Pakistan is mostly community-based which strengthens and promotes arranged and exchange marriages. The highest rate of arranged marriages is observed in AJK (89 per cent) with Sindh standing next at 88.5 per cent.

The report mentions that 81 .5 percent marriages in Balochistan involve payment of bride price (walver) while exchange marriages (watta satta), which is strongly condemned in Islam, is prevalent in almost all parts of the country with highest rate in Gilgit (17.5) and secondly in Punjab (13.5 per cent).

According to the findings this mode of marriage causes a serious bad socio-economic impact on the bride, as it gives an impression of reducing the bride’s status from a human being to that of a commodity.

The region that topped in cases of love marriages is Gilgit where 8.5 per cent marriages are result of courtship and interestingly the NWFP is second on the list, beating Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and AKJ, with 3.85 per cent marriages involving female choice.

Other customary practices that stop women demanding their right of inheritance include discriminatory attitude towards females, the type of family system most common in the country and lack of decision making power.

The report says that across the country, discriminatory practices usually begin from the very first institution, i.e. family. Mostly adult males are vested with an exclusive right to be the head-guardian of a family hence they are given preferential treatment in all respects.

Generally girls are underestimated and portrayed as incapable of managing their property as was pointed by 36.58 per cent men and 27.17 per cent women. About 15.3 per cent and 13.33 per cent of men and women, respectively, were even of the view that women should not possess property at all.

Explaining the family system and its impact on the women’s right of inheritance, the report said that the countrywide data reveals a common trend of joint family system (71 per cent) as compared to nuclear family system (29 per cent).

It explains that this trend has a negative impact on women’s right as they are forced to marry within the family so that their share of property remains within the family and in the hands of the male relatives.

Under the title of lack of decision making among women, the report mentions that since men are considered heads of the family in all capacities, women as daughters, sisters, wives and mothers silently follow the rules framed by them.

It says that across the country, 66.6 per cent of womenfolk have no right to select their profession, 66.1 per cent have no right to travel independently and 64.9 per cent say that they have no right to interact with persons they wish to.

In Balochistan, 100 per cent of women have no right to interact or travel on their own with 96 per cent denied the right to choose profession or their spouse. The most encouraging figures came from Sindh where 47 per cent of women are allowed to interact independently, 72 per cent can travel on their own and 88 per cent have the right to select profession of their own choice.

Owing to customary practices mostly women are forced to withdraw their right to inheritance in favour of male family members seemingly voluntarily or under compulsion. The overall ratio is 50.6 per cent with highest in Balochistan (100 per cent) followed by Punjab (97 per cent).

Overall, 42.23 per cent of women face challenges in getting their right to inheritance. Most common of challenges are customary practices followed by complications in legal system (38.16 per cent) and procedural problems (28 per cent).
Source: The News
Date:8/11/2007