Munaj Gul Mohammad
The month of November in Makran comes with some excitement for school-age children after the announcement of vacations amid the second wave of coronavirus. Most of the children happily chatted with one another as to how to pass their off-days in their neighborhoods. However, Sara in full excitement tells her classmates that she will enjoy full time with her family members in her village (Tehsil Tump). She was uncertain that the end of November 2020 would be unfair with her studies and life-changing dreams.
Rather than doing school assignments, she was told to be ready in wearing the bridal dress as her marriage was scheduled for December 10. For her classmates, the middle of December came up with that grim news.
Though for Sara,12, in the village of Tump area of district Kech, the forced marriage was a lifelong curse that washed away her beautiful dreams. Consequently, she got married to a much older man than her age. Now she owns those cultures which she has been reviling her fate.
In fact, child marriage has been a very long practice in the Tump, region of district Kech (Tump is a neglected area in Eastern Makran, Balochistan) and in other parts of Balochistan, too. In the region, girls are never given a choice when and where to get married.
” I dreamt to be a school teacher,” Sara said. Whenever my class teachers asked me about my future planning, I responded to them that the only wish of mine is to “contribute something good to the girls’ education in my society which no more remains a wish for me,” she answered in tears.
After the marriage, Sara says goodbye to her education, and getting married at a very young age has put all her dreams aside, but no one cares!
“We (females) don’t need all the constitutional rights to secure ourselves from the so-called male-dominated society, what we just want to have the right to accept the proposal of the marriage or disagree to further continue our education.” Laments Nazish told me, who is another young married girl who dreamt to be a lawyer; unfortunately, she is the mother of a daughter and a son, with no choice left for her to pursue her education and fulfill her childhood dreams. “They (our families) would never try to educate their daughters as sons. We wish to wear school uniforms and to rest in our mothers’ arms, but we are forced to wear a wedding dress, thenceforth, we are married before the completion of our education.”
Nazish and Sara are not the first prey to get early marriage in Balochistan province; there are hundreds of thousands of such unreported stories on the basis of so-called family honors. In Pakistan, Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) 1929 has set the legal age for marriage to 16 for women and 18 for men; but sadly, there remains no implementation of laws for the eradication of the existing dilemma.
Similarly, there are numerous young girls who think of holding books and pens in their hands but the so-called society handover them the burden of responsibilities on their weak shoulders by enforced and early age-marriage; before they could reach to the age of puberty. Instead of holding books and pens, they are compelled to hold children.
Undoubtedly, early marriage affects the health of brides and grooms besides education.
Here the questions arise, why are the only girls forced to marry not boys? Who is the onus of deaths of beautiful souls in the early pregnancy? Who is responsible of the violation of their (girls) legal rights besides the rights bestowed by God?
” I complained to my uncles about my marriage, but they remained silent even though they were educated and aware of the consequences of early marriages. Secondly, it was the most difficult moment for me when we (my sisters and relatives) were told to sew the matrimonial dress of mine. In fear, I remained dead-silent. During the marriage, they (family members) were rejoicing and dancing, I passed all the days and nights in tears,” says Nazish in anguish. ” There are many girls who are married off before they reach puberty and their dreams are crushed out.”
In Balochistan, almost more than 50% of marriages are solemnized before the age of 18. Because of early marriages mortality ratio during pregnancy is high. Though, the prime reason behind child marriages is lack of public awareness and illiteracy. Howbeit, the so-called civil society, religious leaders, and other communities, had to better work on the decimation of this social evil in the province.
The Sustainable Development Goals has planned to achieve its goals in the year 2030 and promise to create progress, which will improve lives across the world. The elimination of early marriages is one of them. But when every year young girls are married off; they have ultimately locked away from a better life. Young girls in Balochistan, are no exception. Some with great dreams of the future and some too young to envisage anything about themselves are married off. The provincial and federal governments have to impose the laws in the prohibition of early marriages if they want a change in the world of education…!
As for the present, Sara and Nazish wail with the moon at nights and nights. God only listens to their rebukes but never bothers Himself to reply to them in the affirmative.
Note: The names were changed due to privacy concerns.
The writer is a freelance writer & pursuing an LLB at the University of Turbat.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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