Boy meets girl. Cupid shoots them with love at first sight yet they both venture into getting to know each other. Rendezvous held and secret letters exchanged. Both fall under each other’s hypnotizing spell. Boy seeks girl’s hand in marriage. Armageddon arises within both respective families, citing reasons the match will never be acceptable in the eyes of scornful society or Almighty God for that matter and the love birds carry out what they think could vindicate them – they decide to run away and escape from the forces barricading them from each other. And they lived happily ever after…
Those were the immensely heart-warming romantic tales of love we used to hear and read about. How the “Romeos and Juliets” or even “Lailas and Majnus” fought against all odds to be with their soul mate. Their sole crime? To love someone with all their heart and soul and vowing to never let go. The struggle and strife the lovers would have to endure would always be worth the fight as love conquered all.
Those were the days when things were more black and white, time flew by at a more leisurely pace, resources limited and I’d have to say sincerity purely genuine. With the turn of the millennium, life moves at a much faster pace, we are presented with unlimited resources and doesn’t everything appear nothing less than perplexing and complicated nowadays? There’s an uprising of deceit and hypocrisy to alarming levels in the present state of the world.
We live in an era of free speech, modernization, liberation and technology.
Women in Pakistan who marry against the wishes of their parents are ostracised or even killed by male relatives for supposedly bringing dishonour on the family. But online relationships (cyber love) are a new phenomenon, rapidly gaining sky high limits of popularity.
More than 2.1 million people are officially estimated to have access to the Internet in Pakistan, a drop in the ocean of the population of 180 million, a reflection of the huge disparity in wealth and literacy.
Mohammad Zaman, a renowned professor of sociology at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, who has written a book about marriage: Exchange Marriages in South Punjab, Pakistan: A Sociological Analysis of Kinship Structure, Agency, and Symbolic Culture claims arranged unions that have dominated for centuries are on the decline.
“Internet marriage is a new trend emerging in Pakistan. Technological advancement has entered into our homes and traditional taboos are slowly vanishing in educated and affluent families,” states Zaman.
Online, they can share personal information and swap photographs — things that would be restricted or prohibited in the traditional selection of partners.
The Internet is changing mindsets, giving young people freedom and privacy, and a forum to discuss matters frowned upon by Pakistan’s tradition following, conservative society.
“There is a kind of emancipation in society and young people want their say in the selection of their future partner,” Zaman said, although he conceded that parents find it easier to accept a son’s choice than that of a daughter.
Muhammad and Sania’s Flee From Captivity in the Name of Love:
Sania was just a mere schoolgirl when she logged onto an Internet chat room and met a young college student called Mohammad. They fell in love and decided to get married.
Internet dating in the West is now so common that it is no longer considered an act of shameful desperation but an acceptable way for busy professionals to discover a like-minded partner.
But for Sania, the 22-year-old daughter of a conservative truck driver in Pakistan, online romance and her subsequent marriage has meant repeated beatings and death threats at the hands of her relatives.
Sania elucidated that not a single individual has ever been granted permission to marry outside the community to which she belongs to. It is an inherent tradition which her family adheres to.
At first she and Mohammad chatted online. Then they both purchased mobiles to continue their relationship by telephone. For several years they asked their parents for permission to marry, but were blatantly refused on each inquiry.
Tormented with the thought of never being able to meet Mohammad ever again, Sania set aside her fear which was gnawing her insides like deadly cancerous cells and decided to escape.
She packed a bag and stealthily snuck out while her brother was at school, her mother asleep and her father out at work. She took a bus straight to Muzaffarabad.
She spent the four-hour journey in trepidation, dreading the thought that if her family caught her, they wouldn’t hesitate in brutally ending her life.
In Muzaffarabad, Mohammad met her off the bus and they got married immediately. But while his family quickly accepted Sania, more than two years later the couple still live in constant fear of her relatives. Twice they have dragged her back to Rawalpindi since her marriage and have demanded repeatedly that she break off relations with Mohammad.
“Last time they took me back three months ago and put lot of pressure on me to break off this relationship. I got in contact with my husband and asked him to fetch me. I escaped from the house at midnight and we managed to flee,” she said.
Now Sania and her 24-year-old husband have moved to a new one-room house in a slum, changed their phone number and dare not venture out of the city. “They say they will kill us whenever they find us,” Sania said.
Tahir’s Grievance Over His Love’s Labour’s Lost:
Tahir, a Pakistani peace activist, knows only too well how the freedom of the Internet can collide with the restrictions of everyday life — not only conservative sensibilities but politics and war. The 26-year-old fell for university student Nazia on Facebook and Skype.
All fine and dandy, except that Nazia lives on the other side of one of the most heavily militarised borders in the world — that which divides the Himalayan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Twice India and Pakistan have gone to war over Kashmir. Although tentative peace talks have resumed, travel is tightly controlled. Only those with special government permits are permitted to cross and take the bus service that runs once a week from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar, the capital of the Indian-administered portion.
A 22-year-old Indian girl was reportedly detained after trying to cross the Line of Control, as the de facto border is known, to meet her boyfriend from Pakistani-administered Kashmir, whom she allegedly met on Facebook, and to escape an arranged marriage at home.
Not even modern methods of communication are reliable.
“Sometimes when I speak to her on Skype, I can see her but there is a lot of noise and we cannot understand each other,” shared 26-year-old Tahir (not his real name).
He says people in Indian Kashmir cannot call those in Pakistani Kashmir and that it can take three or four days for her to receive his text messages. If the Internet is the only place Tahir and Nazia could have met, Kashmir is probably the last place they could ever meet in person.
“We understand each other from both sides of Kashmir, but they can’t come to our side and we can’t go there…. I love her a lot and don’t think I can live without her, but I’ve decided there is no future,” he was quoted to have said in dismay.
In Love Deceit Almost Always Goes Further than Mistrust:
The heading provided above is actually a quote penned by Francois de la Rochefoucauld. How apt I thought to myself as it’s exactly what I further had desired to elaborate over. Can these social networking portals be the smart and legitimate way to find love?
It sure is a speedy way to hunt for for a partner just by doing a thorough search by specifically typing in what you’re looking for and viewing endless profiles. A couple catch your eye, friend requests sent, accepted and voila – one can decide whether you would like to take your “relationship” to the next level and with whom you’ve always dreamed of.
It does work if both sides maintain equilibrium of honesty, generosity, sincerity and trust.
Of course, the profiles may be nothing but a scam. That isn’t exactly a crime; who wants to put their life history out into public for all to see? It becomes a crime when that somebody turns out to be the opposite from what they advertised and the relationship reaches “married” status. The Pandora box is finally opened revealing unpleasant and well kept secrets which changes your life forever.
Such an unfortunate situation was experienced by a friend of mine. She had met her dastardly partner through Facebook. He was apparently working abroad. They continued their relationship through Skype and kept in touch regularly. He eventually proposed and she was on seventh Heaven accepting with joy. A Nikah ceremony was held and her paper work was in the process of being made in order to join him abroad to start a new beginning to her life. It just wasn’t meant to be…
She found out months later that he was already a married man with a wife tucked away in another country. His family didn’t approve of his marriage with her as she was a foreigner; not a traditional homely girl. I’m assuming matters of religion and faith had become another ensuing problem. As for my friend, she is awaiting his arrival in Pakistan to sign the divorce papers which he has brazenly refused to sign.
She’s an intelligent, bright and friendly person and didn’t deserve such disappointment in marital bliss. Her story is one which many can relate to and it saddens me by just mentioning this.
A Lid for Every Pot:
Now you all must be in the definite viewpoint that I’m vehemently against online dating or finding love online with my rather vitriolic approach. That’s not the case at all! I adore the expression used as the heading above; the idea that there is someone for everyone fills my heart with contentment and I absolutely believe in it 100%! Sometimes it’s just a little hard to find that person, maybe you need to broaden your search if you’ve tried and failed, which is why I think finding love online is a good idea. As long as one doesn’t forget their limits, morals and religious wisdom, I don’t see the harm in it. The world opens up to you when you are open to the possibilities.
I’ve known and read about many successful online unions where they met their respective partner through a chat room, social networking site, online group, etc. People living in different countries even – make that continents, countless typing sessions, loads of speaking with each other night and day – months later – a plane ride to meet in the flesh the object of their adoration and a decade and three children later, the happy couple has no regrets and are still going strong.
You just have to be wise enough to steer clear from the booby traps “time passers” leave and recognize a genuine person from a two faced hypocrite. Above all – be extra cautious. A few helpful tips should aid you in your pursuit of happiness via cyber net:
- NEVER meet someone you’ve met online alone.
- Always tell people where you are going and who you are with and make sure you have a picture available of your new love in case they aren’t who they say they are.
- Do a quick Google search to see what you can dig up.
- Check out other dating sites (if you met on one) to see if they have profiles on any of them and are using the same name and information.
- Find out where they work and have a family member or friend discreetly check out their story – do they actually work where they say they do? Do six kids show up and call him “Abba jaan?!”
- Don’t be too hasty in undertaking decisions or meeting up. Weigh out the pros and cons first before you’re fully satisfied and see the relationship working out as you and your family would prefer.
- Involve your respective elders once you both have decided that you’d like to give your relationship a “proper” title. This isn’t the West where parents are the ones taking permission from their kids; keeping them in the loop will maintain the trust factor and you won’t feel guilty over the prospect of sneaking behind their back.
The Internet is a double-edged sword; it can be beneficial and it can be harmful depending upon its use. So the impact is on the user and not on modern communication media. Users in such a case (a chat room) are no one else but the youth. They will use internet with care and prudence if they are properly trained (by parents and teachers) or else they can be led astray. Yes, we cannot stop someone from falling in love online or offline but there is more to the internet than just finding love. Misuse of internet especially by young age boys and girls can have many negative consequences for all concerned.
What is your opinion on this global phenomenon? Feel free to comment about it below.