Feature

Pakistan: The culture behind honor killings

Why do Pakistani families force their daughters into tribal marriages?

Saeed Ahmed RidDawn

Why do Pakistani families force their daughters into tribal marriages? asked Saeed Ahmed Rid. It’s not simplyanger at a disobedient act and not simply misogyny—although there are certainly elements of both. Westerners have a hard time understanding what it means for a rural family to have its honor threatened. If a girl who is betrothed to someone in her clan runs away with someone else, her father will lose his job and all his business connections, while her mother will lose all her friends, and her siblings can forget about ever finding spouses of their own. “In cases where the family itself arranges the marriage of their daughter to someone outside the tribe, that family often has to leave the village,” uprooting their lives and severing all familial connections. Faced with such catastrophe, it is no wonder that families coerce their daughters into marrying within the clan or even go so far as to kill them when they stray. So “who is responsible for the denial of basic human rights to women in Pakistan?” The fathers and brothers who oppress them? The government, which fails to arrest or prosecute the perpetrators? “Or a society and culture that makes those fathers and brothers feel like outcasts among their own people?”

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