Forced and free-will marriages.
Byline: Maryam Alvi - LAHORE
In spite of the teachings enshrined in the Holy Quran and the Pakistani law deeming forced marriage a cognisable offence, the concept of free will in marriage is still alien to a majority in Pakistan. Ironically, forced marriage is mainly a dilemma of conservative, religious families who in a bid to avoid conflicts with their extended family and society often end up forcing their children into forced marriages. Albeit overlapping, Pakistan has laws providing legal protection to victims of both the forms of marriage, that is, free- will marriage and forced marriage. However, where free-will marriages commonly make it to as the families of the two try to end the matrimony, a victim approaching courts against a forced marriage is a rare happening. This too stems from social pressure and feelings of guilt for going against one's own parents.
It is important that legal assistance is made more available and accessible to potential victims with the awareness of the fact that not giving into a forced lifelong union is one's religious and legal right.