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Monday, August 8, 2022

Forced Separations

Every once in a while there comes an incident that bounces straight off the fault lines of our society. This season is about a girl who left her parents to marry a boy from Lahore.

These incidents usually pull off a lot of public outcries and tell you a lot about how one looks at life. What’s fascinating for me is watching the liberals go conservative and the conservatives go liberal. Or seeing how liberal a conservative is and how conservative a liberal Pakistani is.

It would be petty to talk about just this specific incident as this case is a copy of many incidents that happen pretty often (daily basis) in Pakistan.

No matter how intelligent any criminal is, no matter how hard he tries but he will always be doing a crime that someone else had done before. It’s very, very rare to come across something not seen before. Some cases are just carbon copies of each other.

I was working as a reporter at Pakistan Today newspaper in 2011 when my Chief Reporter Nadeem Syed sb sent me to a crime scene. I came back with a lot of notes and started sharing it with Chief sb.

A woman was found dead inside her car near Nawaz Sharif interchange. She looked like a middle aged woman probably in her late 30s or early 40s. To me, it looked like she was mugged and shot upon resisting. She was shot multiple times, on her body and there was one bullet wound in the head. She was found on the driver’s seat.

After listening to all this Nadeem sb, an experienced name in English print media said that the woman was probably pregnant, and this might be an extramarital affair. I was taken aback by such cold speculations, especially before autopsy reports. But then came the reports. Chief sb was right. She was pregnant. I was shaken. How did he guess? He told me that multiple bullet wounds on the body of a woman, especially on the abdomen area usually indicate that the criminal didn’t just want to kill the woman, for that they needed just one bullet, in the head.

People keeping an eye on cases, journalists, police, paramedics, lawyers and all other people officially involved in crime or court cases knew from day one that this was a classic case of court marriage, which happens pretty often. But what does a classic court marriage case look like. Well most of them end in ‘forced separations.’

In a classic runaway case a girl and a boy make a decision with mutual consent to live a life together. They talk to their parents, but after parents deny they run away with each other. In most cases, parents are aware when they approach the police.

At the police station, it’s all about which party is more powerful. If the girl’s party is, an FIR is registered against the known boy for kidnapping. In such cases, the couple is caught by the police before appearing in court for marriage. The girl goes home with infuriated parents and an uncertain future while the boy rots in jail on charges of kidnapping (by the way these court marriage cases and attempted court marriage cases are added in crime records as woman kidnapping cases which also causes a stir in the NGO community as to how many women are being kidnapped in Pakistan, which is misleading).

In other cases, the couple gets married. And if that happens a barrage of allegations is hurled from here to there. The allegations usually are based on differences between both sides. It’s either the difference of class, the difference of race, the difference of community, the difference of religion, the difference of sect or even the difference of age.

Keep in mind the couple married with mutual consent, but the parents, most girls want to get back at the other side with revenge. So many of these forced conversion cases, underage court married cases, and kidnapping cases are real love-marriages. The naïve couple was really in a love situation and took the step with mutual consent, but what happens after that is a tragedy.

There are many outcomes of such classic cases. One, the girl and the boy are killed for honour, at their house, or while coming to court. Two, the girl goes home to be tortured by her parents and the boy is sent to prison on charges of kidnapping. Three, the girl is forcefully married to someone else becoming another problem. Fourth, the girl goes into complete hiding after coming home. Fifth, even if the couple makes through all this the media and the society stir so much friction that it gets difficult for both to go on together and they end up in separation.

Once separated, the girls usually does not have the courage of going back home, so they end up at Darul Amaans as struggling working single women living on their own. And then begins another tale of tragedy, which Iqrarul Hassan painted so wrongly in a video.

Whichever one it is, in all these outcomes there’s one thing that is common, ‘forced separations.’

But in other outcomes, where less egos are involved, after the girl gives the statement in court that she wants to live with the boy the case ends just right there. And the couple DOES ironically live happily ever after.

Ali TM
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Ali TM
Ali TM
Ali TM is a Pakistani journalist, writer and an academician. He has reported and edited for various English print media organizations. Currently he is the Editor in Chief of www.othernews.pk.
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