Social Issues

Suicide by couple in Pakistan draws attention to lack of love matches

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Nov 24 (EFE).- The recent case of two young lovers committing suicide in Pakistan, after the girl’s family fixed a match for her elsewhere, has brought the spotlight on the difficulties faced by people marrying out of love, something uncommon in the conservative Islamic country.

On Nov.4, Adnan Ali and Muqaddas Bibi, both 19, drank poison at a schoolyard in their hometown in the northeastern district of Faisalabad.

The couple committed suicide during the wedding that Bibi’s parents had arranged with another man of their choosing. Both the young lovers were pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

“When we reached both were writhing in pain and were vomiting on the ground,” Adnan’s father Muhammed Ramzan told EFE.

Arshad Bogan, a police officer in charge of investigating the incident, told EFE that the couple had asked their relatives for permission to marry.

“One day before the incident Adnan told his eldest sister that he would commit suicide if he was not married to Muqaddas but his family didn’t take it seriously,” said Bogan.

The couple’s relatives had opposed the wedding because they belonged to different castes.

Although Islam does not recognize the caste system, this hierarchical organization of society is very present in Pakistan and other South Asian countries such as India.

However, Adnan’s father told EFE that his son never told him about his desire to marry the young woman.

“If he asked me I would have gone to ask for Muqaddas’ hand for my son,” rued the father.

The incident was well covered by the local press, but it is far from an isolated incident in conservative Pakistan.

Pakistan – where a total of 1,735 people took their own lives in 2020, according to the country’s Human Rights Commission – has no official data on the number of people who commit suicide due to forced marriages.

However, incidents related to this type of ceremonies occasionally are reported to the local press.

Marriages arranged by the family are the norm in the Asian country, set on the basis of different factors such as caste, ethnicity or the socioeconomic status of the couple.

In the case of women, most families consider it their right to marry her to the man they believe is appropriate, Khawar Mumtaz, former chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women told EFE.

“Consent of a majority of the girls is not taken here,” said Khawar, adding “some are forced, some may not be – they are just told their marriage is fixed.”

In Pakistan, falling in love with a person considered unsuitable by the families can even result in death, with murders carried out by relatives to protect their “honor.”

According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 488 deaths – 326 women and 162 men – were reported due to honor killing in 2019.

Mumtaz said that marriages out of love account for a very low percentage of those registered in Pakistan.

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