Making informed choices

A woman who filed for divorce simply because she did not foresee a future inspired me with her courage. People must have ‘tsk-tsked’ behind her family’s back but she bore it all.

Aatekah Mir-khan October 03, 2010

Mark Steven Johnson, an American film writer and director, once said, “Everything you do in life, every choice you make, has a consequence.”

Last week a woman filed a petition in court seeking divorce from an uneducated man to whom she was married by her parents when she was a young girl. The woman said that she had studied and become a teacher but her husband did not get any education. She submitted that she could not foresee a happy marriage with him since they were very different from each other.

My first reaction after reading the news was to rejoice silently. It seems that times have finally begun to change. It must have taken courage, a lot of it actually, to take such a stand. Had her family or her ‘husband’ to whom she was betrothed without been given a choice, been sensible or reasonable the issue would have been resolved at home. But, as is the case with many families when it comes to marriages, what was done was done. She must have approached the court after deliberating for I don’t know how many nights. She must have been afraid of how her family would react, how would the man who she was given to would respond to her daring to challenge the decision. She must have been told, before or after she filed the petition, that she was bringing the family a bad name.

Maybe her father, brother or mother even told her that they regretted the day she was born and that she was dead to them. She must have been told, not just by her immediate family, but also far off relatives and neighbours who have no business interfering in her life that by leaving the husband she would be a divorcee and that no one would marry her afterwards. People must have ‘tsk-tsked’ behind her family’s back and ‘sympathised’ saying, “That is why you do not educate the girls. They become insane.”

They must have said that her sisters, if she has any, would also suffer because of her ‘inconsiderate and selfish’ decision; that no one would ask for their hand either.

But she bore all that. She did not let their punches knock her off. She stood up for herself. She realised that she was better than what she was being given, she believed in herself and she found the courage to fight back. Her fight is far from over. In all probability she will go through blackmail, emotional and otherwise. She will be reasoned with, scolded, maybe worse. I hope that she finds the nerve not to give up, that she realises everyday that the moment she decided to go against the family decision, she was right and that there is nothing wrong with believing that you deserve more from life.

Making such a choice is driven by a willingness to make a change in your life, which helps one reclaim personal power. When you make a choice, you take responsibility for yourself. I read somewhere, “It is the moment when a person re-defines themselves on their own terms.” I think in our society many of us, not just women, lack that responsibility, not just in deciding who to marry. We need to start being self-responsible. That is the only way we will accept the consequences of our actions and our choices.

Aatekah Mir Khan A graduate of the London School of Economics and a Daniel Pearl fellow, the writer is a senior sub-editor at The Express Tribune in Lahore.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Maryam | 13 years ago | Reply i think one should try his/her best to comprise and adjust...becuase filing for "Divorce" is nothing to be proud be, it is an act which is halal but still disliked. and ofcouse when there is no option only then u should think of going for it.!
Humanity | 13 years ago | Reply Whether or not the story is properly researched is an important point. However, what stands out as a stark reality is the quick reaction expressed in a few comments. A time-tested rebuttal is to start a character assassination campaign, and vilify the woman to begin a witch hunt, all based on the fear of losing control. I How dare a woman challenge the male ego by choosing to take control of her life? It would be interesting to see the reaction with the roles reversed. Bigotry does have a way of getting exposed.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ