Female Pakistanis Marrying from ‘Back Home’
I have never really understood this concept called ‘marriage from back home’, especially for girls of Pakistani origin living abroad. Especially the girls who were born in a different country and have a different mindset, mentality, thinking, and upbringing than people who were born and brought up in Pakistan. Why do I want to talk about this? It is because I have heard stories so many times from my female friends about divorce, abuse, and infidelity.
I just do not understand how seemingly educated women, born and bred in the UK and indeed other places, can willingly put themselves in such situations that they call marriage from back home. I cannot emphasise how many times I have heard from my friends that they married someone from back home, from their village & brought them to the UK or America or Canada or Dubai etc, only to face crazy culture clash and the difference in mentality & upbringing destroyed their lives and gave them numerous mental health conditions.
I mean if the concept is to marry someone from outside of the UK for whatever reason, then there are Pakistani men sprawled all over the world, better educated, open-minded, decent, and kind, and living on their own or with their families outside of Pakistan — you can marry an overseas Pakistani too. Otherwise, if it is a must from ‘Pakistan’ itself, I do not know why the villages? There are a lot of decent and educated men in the cities, working professionals, belonging to decent families, with morals, values, upbringing, and thinking that might match yours, who are better suited as a prospect for marriage, perhaps.
I am sick of seeing my friends repeat the same mistake repeatedly and live a life of pain and misery. Not to say that ALL marriages to men from a village will resort to the same conclusion that I have seen time and time again, but it has happened far too many times to say that this is not something that does not happen often. I have read about it on forums online, in newspaper articles, I have heard first-hand stories about what people have gone through in mental health support WhatsApp group chats and have heard from my friends about their own experiences.
I had a friend in Glasgow who married someone from Pakistan, from her ancestral hometown village and brought him along with her to the UK after their wedding. They were on a British Airways flight. The male purser asked her whether she wanted tea or coffee & smiled at her, she smiled back and said tea please and he poured it for her etc. The husband accused her of flirting with the man whilst being married and would not stop going on about it. Then later, he was very paranoid by every little interaction his wife had with people out on the streets etc. when he was settled and living in the UK. He would call her at work to make sure she is at work and God knows what else he did. He started to beat her up too and acted like a typical husband, wanting her to stop work, not go out at all, and not meet friends etc. She had two children with him and tried to make it work, but in the end, it just ended.
Another friend from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK has a similar story. She married a Pakistan man, who was in the UK on a student visa. He persuaded my friend somehow to get to know him, initially, he seemed OK and sweet, but as soon as they got married & she got pregnant, he started throwing tantrums that this is not the country where he wants to raise his daughter, they fought a lot, he did black magic on her, took her and her daughter to Pakistan, in Pakistan for 3 years he beat her up, cheated on her so many times, didn’t treat his daughter right or be there for her etc. Finally, she could not take the abuse and be tired of trying to make the marriage work, so she found an opportunity to run to the British embassy in Islamabad & request emergency passports and repatriation. He had burned her and her daughter’s passports. Finally, she is now back in the UK, but she is traumatised for life and is going through depression. She did not even want to live but is now living for her daughter. She has informed the Home Office of the situation and restricted his entry to the UK. Thankfully, the marriage was only Islamic and not registered by law in the UK, so the divorce process was not complicated & he did not get a chance to use the law to try and remain in the UK or get custody of her daughter.
A friend of mine, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, was becoming a doctor. She was doing her residency, and right that moment her parents started pressurising her to get married. She is born and bred in the USA and has never been to Pakistan before the moment she went to Pakistan on the insistence of her parents and got married to a distant relative she had never known existed before. Her parents assured her that this was the right decision and being a ‘good’ daughter who was not only loyal and obliging, but ‘Allah’ fearing too, she went with it. Married the guy and applied for his green card. He came over to the USA. The first few years were relatively okay until he got the passport. The problems started then, and the husband started to get abusive, would hit my friend with pots and pans, and not treat her well, ignore her and not communicate. Later, my friend found out that he was frequenting bars and was cheating on her too. After a lot of back and forth and a lot more discoveries, my friend ran back to her parent’s house and started divorce proceedings. Now she is a single mum to a daughter.
It is just not restricted to the ‘western’ countries where people can marry a citizen to obtain citizenship, this is happening to girls in the Gulf too. Parents forcing their daughters to marry from Pakistan, instead of finding someone from the place they are residing at — and then finding out that this was such a bad decision for their family and their daughter(s). Again, this does not discount the fact that you are guaranteed to have a happy marriage with someone you marry from your local area/country.
I have the story of a friend of mine who succumbed to her parents’ wish to marry her off to someone from Pakistan because they thought the person from Pakistan will be more religious and obedient and loyal and ‘decent’ and less liberal than someone living in Dubai. I applaud their pathetic thinking because there are all sorts of people everywhere, they failed to even check or see if they could find a good match in Dubai or the UAE, before heading straight to Pakistan. Anyway, they found a family through a matchmaker in DHA, Lahore, one of Lahore’s elite and posh residential areas — especially favoured by overseas Pakistanis to buy properties in, as their second homes ‘back home. They did not even bother to check or research much into the guy or what the family claim regarding their financial standing, wealth, business, home, and social standing etc. The wedding went ahead, and the family vanished on the girl’s family and the girl. No house in DHA, Lahore as they claimed, no family business, no trace. The guy had already come to Dubai before then on the pretext of visiting for business & as soon as the family vanished, announced to his in-laws that he was staying with them, they have nothing, he has no money, and he wishes to stay in Dubai & not Pakistan. It turns out, the family only did this so their son gets married to a girl from a wealthy business family in Dubai and their son can extort his in-laws out of money using emotional blackmail — by way of manipulating and abusing their daughter. And it worked! Is the girl happy, no she is not, but does she have a choice? Her family does not want her to divorce the man out of fear of humiliation and shame in the extended family and community that some low lives managed to outmanoeuvre and de-fraud them.
These are some examples of what I have observed and heard regarding marriages from back home. My thoughts related to this:
- Parents should stop forcing their daughters to marry from back home & allow their daughters to marry whoever they want
- Finding a person from Pakistan does not mean that he will be more decent or religious, so many people get scammed this way, get duped into believing that somehow Pakistanis in Pakistan are more connected to God and have better morals & values when this is not the case always
- You or your parents immigrated to US, UK, Canada, or wherever from Pakistan, you got married and had your kids who are born and bred outside of Pakistan, in most cases haven’t even visited Pakistan or do not go there often, then how can you expect or pressurise your children — especially your girls, to marry from back home? To marry a man whose mentality and upbringing is so different from yours.
- Not saying that opposites don’t attract sometimes or that you won’t find people with similar thought process in Pakistan, but whoever I have seen marrying someone from the village, they have matched with someone who is not educated, does not speak an ounce of English, haven’t even seen major cities of Pakistan, let alone gone out of the country before, so how can you expect someone like that to adjust easily to your level of lifestyle and your way of life, in a foreign country alien to their own.
- Women on forums and groups and especially my friends complain that the husband they have brought over from Pakistan is too into his family, he sends back all that he earns and does not give money to them, they have to spend their own, tells everything to his mum or parents on the phone — even their secrets, and is very anti-social in his adopted country; well obviously, a person who has spent all his life in a village in Pakistan, who most probably is a mummy’s boy, will listen to whatever she tells him to do, regardless if he is now in the UK or Canada etc. will be more attached and connected to them. You cannot just expect that man to drop his family, just because he is now married to you and in a foreign country. You should have thought about this before marrying him.
- Most of the times, I have heard my friends being pressurised to get married to their distant relatives in villages in Pakistan by their parents, because their parents feel like they owe some sort of debt to their brothers or sisters or cousins, by leaving them behind in Pakistan — and now they have to repay that debt of absence by offering their son or daughter in marriage to get married to their nieces or nephews in Pakistan & bringing them over to the UK or USA etc. Do not be like this! Your children are not sacrificial lambs that you use to please your relatives so that their children can come abroad.
- The men who manage to entrap and marry girls from outside of Pakistan, do it firstly and foremost for the opportunity to come abroad, secondly for the greed that they will be able to earn in pounds and send back home and lastly, but most importantly, the ‘passport’. And when their sons manage to go abroad, the families in villages in Pakistan brag to their extended families and neighbours that their sons are now abroad & soon will be British or American and earning in ‘pooonds or daalars’ and they’re gonna be rich soon. The sons are also brainwashed before they leave Pakistan, by their families, and their aim is set to earn as much money as possible and send it back and try to get visas for them as soon as possible too, so they can also visit the holy land — the United Kingdom etc. So many times, my friends complain that their ex-husbands always used to earn and send all the money back home, torture them into spending all their money on the house and bills, never love them etc. Well, when the premise and the scaffolding of marriage and relationship are based on superficial things, if you try to build a strong structure, you might fail, and it has a chance to collapse totally.
- Due to cultural clashes and the difference in mentalities, many of my friends have suffered at the hands of their husbands who they have brought from Pakistan with them. Again, not saying that this always happens or is necessary will happen, but I am talking from personal experience and observations. Like how I mentioned in my case study regarding my friend from Glasgow who brought over her husband who was extremely paranoid and used to think she was flirting with everyone, I have heard stories from other women narrating pretty much the same thing that their husbands stalked them, made sure they were at work and not elsewhere, didn’t appreciate that they worked — but milked every penny out of them nevertheless, didn’t like them meeting ever their girlfriends, used to check their phones and ask for social media passwords etc. One friend even told me that her husband had used his phone number and email address for her bank account, so he would know every single time she used her card and where she spent ‘her’ money. He would ask her about every little purchase and once even accused her of buying a present for her lover at work when it was just a going away present for a colleague, she had worked with for over 3 years. Again, not saying that paranoia cannot breed in husbands found from the local area, city, or country — but due to the differences in upbringing, mentality, thought process, and narrow-mindedness; my friends suffered so much so that it resulted in divorces. The divorces were the relatively easy part, what they are still suffering from is the PTSD and the trauma of the abuse they suffered.
- Many of my friends have been cheated upon by their husbands that they have brought from back home — the village. This stems back to the aim of just getting out of the country (Pakistan) somehow & marrying someone just for citizenship, in my opinion. When you marry someone without really getting to know them or being in love with them, with just one purpose that is to gain a foreign residency and/or citizenship, then I do not see how this might not be recipe for disaster. When you let someone like that marry you, you are opening yourself up to a whole lot of issues and troubles. That person is only interested in your share of the inheritance, that person is only interested in knowing whether the house that you own is on a mortgage or paid off, that person is only interested in coming out of the country & gaining citizenship/residency and that person is only interested in earning money in a different currency and sending foreign exchange back home. Now, again, I do not have any problem with sons supporting their mothers, but when that’s all they are doing and are not treating their new foreign wives appropriately, that’s where I have a problem.