By Alamgir Sangal
It is believed that women are the most sensitive part of a society. In all cultures of the world, women possess the identity of a mother, sister, wife and daughter.
In the context of a backward area like our homeland Chitral, women are believed to be the most respectable part of society. This identity of women in Islam has been given by Almighty God and prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Today, when we look at our society many drastic changes, mainly through the communication revolution, have made our life much easier and also brought some serious issues.
Elopement of girls in Chitral is one of the issues created mostly by the communication technology. The Islamic cultural values are vanishing slowly. In western society, elopement is not that big issue but in Pakistan, especially in Chitral, it is seen as against our traditional values. In Chitral, this is a problem of vice and virtue.
Now a question again arises that why do girls take this step in the first place? I met many people – young and old boys and girls – and got to know that this is not only the girls’ fault. This issue arises basically from the generation gap existing among the family members, gender inequality, discrimination and no power in decision-making on the party of the girls.
In many families, the girls are not able to share their feelings with their parents, elder brothers, or even elder sisters because most of the time the person she wants to marry is from the opposite sect or clan. It may be noted that sectarianism is one of the major barriers in such matters. Recently, two such cases were observed in my own village where a girl eloped with a boy who belonged to her opposite community. This problem arises where the family members refuse to take action in favor of the girl’s will.
In almost 80% of such cases, people think the family is responsible. Sometimes it happens that when a girl shares her wishes with her family they think it is against their culture and will bring bad name for them and give a very harsh response. Many times, this behavior gives birth to another issue of suicide. Interestingly, in Chitrali culture people encourage the boy for taking this step, but the girl loses her every relation for taking a decision absed on her wishes. This is a very strange behavior of Chitrali people towards elopement.
During the last one year, almost five such cases occurred which I saw myself. As far as I got information I concluded that such relations are not successful, may be the reason is that such steps are mostly taken in an emotional mood.
Once I happened to be involved in a hot discussion with my family, it was about elopement. During the discussion, my mother told us a story of a girl who eloped in our village. This girl was from Yarkhun valley and the boy and the girl did not know each other by face they just contacted each other on phone and at last got married without their families’ permission. When the girl saw the boy, she was shocked. The boy was a foreign educated but belonged to a very poor family as compared to the girl. Within seven days, the girl ran away and went to home.
These types of stories are very common in our society where every next week such an incident happens. The people are still unable to stop it or accept it. Today there is a least a difference between western culture and our culture. Everyone is anxious about these happenings.
I think nobody is bad or good, it’s all about people’s perceptions. If a boy or a girl does a mistake he/she does not do it to harm anyone’s dignity. They don’t know that it is wrong other wise no one can wish to be called unethical or immoral. Being educated or being a part of Chitrali culture we should discuss these issues and find some solution to this problem. In Booni a youth forum “YOUTH HORIZON” is working on these social issues I met the member of that forum too. If in Chitral people show concern on this issue and work to overcome it, it can be overcome soon.
The writer is a student of Class 9th at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Chitral