Pakistan’s Supreme Court, in its infinite wisom, has declared that the growing trend of “love marriages” is damaging the nation’s “moral values.”
The Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling that a woman could marry without the consent of her guardian had been a ray of sanity for an otherwise regressive institution. Recall that this judgement had overturned an earlier declaration by the Lahore high court that a woman could only marry with the permission of her wali!
The truth is sobering. Court benches are comprised of conservative old men with the usual host of regressive, patriarchal, anti-women values. One of these gentlemen — who, much to the nation’s mirth, went on to become President — had once publicly stated that his daughters could only marry within his own biradari (roughly caste).
The only thing our judges are good for — besides watching out for their own perks and privileges — is validating unconstitutional coups by the doctrine of necessity. If they had a shred of human decency, they would ask themselves what constitutes the greater damage to the nation’s moral values: “love” marriages, or the repeated rape of the Constitution, sanctioned by an unscrupulous judiciary?
The Daily Times takes a softer line in this editorial, but their points are equally valid:
It could be a violation of social custom but let us look at the entire body of social customs in relation to marriage in the country. No doubt there is outrage in our conservative society about runaway marriages, but there is a simmering collective memory of parents not being able to arrange marriages of their daughters because of lack of dowry or other hindrances. In parallel to the tradition of not allowing girls to marry of their own accord, should run the recognition on our part that more often than not we allow our daughters to suffer at home simply because we are not able to arrange their marriages in time or are unable to respect the obligation of taking their consent before sending them away with incompatible partners. Much of the cruelty to women in our society surely comes from this “social custom.”