For those of you who don’t know, Dish Network offers a variety of international channels that many Pakistani and Indians in the West salivate over. We have about 3 or 4 of those channels ourselves, as my mom watches a lot of Pakistani dramas. The siblings and I don’t really care for these dramas because they seem to be about the same thing all the time, family and relationships, and portray those in a manner that have all of us shaking our heads in disbelief as my mom says “Hota hai, hota hai.” (It happens, it happens).
I happened to be downstairs one morning when my mom was watching a Pakistani drama so I ended up watching a bit of it as I was eating my breakfast. The scene that was playing out before me depicted a woman in a hospital bed with her brother by her side. Apparently, this woman’s parents had forced her to marry this one guy who turned out to be abusive, which was why she was in the hospital. Her brother told her everything was going to be ok and in the next scene, he was with a lawyer to discuss getting her sister out of the marriage. Here’s what the lawyer said:
“Well, as the girl, she can’t initiate a divorce, but we’ll try to figure something out.”
Horrified, I said to my mom: “What?! That’s not right!”
And it’s true. Islam specifically provides women’s rights in this area, granting them the ability to ask for a divorce. AND Pakistan is a Muslim country.
My mom said, speaking of the girl in the drama: “When they performed the nikah [marriage] and signed the papers, they crossed out the line that said she could initiate a divorce.”
I was a bit dumbfounded at that statement. My mom then told me something crazier – that’s what it was like on her nikah papers as well. For some reason my mom had only seen that it was crossed off recently, when she happened to be looking at these papers. She had no idea that the line had been crossed off on the papers when she had signed.
Unbelievable. I had no idea this kind of practice was being perpetuated in Pakistan, a so-called Muslim country. Islam gave women many rights which, even in this day and age, the country is refusing to recognize.
I’m really disappointed in Pakistani dramas.They have an opportunity to teach and to inform the masses that things could be different, that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. They’re modern in every other sense, their clothes, actions, etc. (I’m pretty shocked sometimes), and yet they can’t recognize that taking away this fundamental right negates all their other methods to be modern and sets them back instead. I’m still horrified.