This article examines the reasons why and the circumstances in which Pakistani women began a common-law relationship against their will, and the role played by their families. A recent national survey shows that 4.1 per cent of indigenous women was obliged to marry and 4.8 per cent was sold. This practice is conceptualized as an expression of both family and partner violence against women, but it is not often labelled and recognized as such. Forced marriage is associated with women’s transgression of traditional gender roles, rape, as well as traditions and practices that consider women’s opinions and consent as unnecessary. Forced marriages are less common now than they were in the past because of the greater awareness of women’s rights. But the practice persists. The link between non-consensual marriages and intimate partner violence is discussed, and public policy implications are presented. There are no religions which support or advocate the practice of forced marriage. Forced marriage can happen to anyone from any background, regardless of social class, financial status and sexuality, which include people who identify as lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender, or are perceived as such. It is important to be aware that forced marriage disproportionately impacts women and girls and is therefore recognized as a form of violence against women and girls. When a forced marriage occurs, several human rights are breached. Women’s experience of abuse often does not end with the pressure to marry. Many women are also subjected to different forms of abuse within the context of their marriage. This can range from emotional, psychological and financial abuse to sexual and physical violence. Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or more of the parties are married without his or her consent or against his or her will. A forced marriage differs from an arranged marriage, in which both parties’ consent to the assistance of their parents or a third party (such as a matchmaker) in choosing a spouse. There is often a continuum of coercion used to compel a marriage, ranging from outright physical violence to subtle psychological pressure. Historically, forced marriage was also used to require a captive (slave or prisoner of war) to integrate with the host community, and accept his or her fate. “Reduced to this sad extremity, with death on the one side, and matrimony on the other, I thought proper to choose what appeared to me the least of the two evils” Early Islam had advised its followers to avoid the bi-racial marriages that discrete cousins, or relatives; recommending both interethnic and intercultural marriages. Later it is scientifically confirmed the health vulnerability and genetic disorder of bi-racial marriages. Notably, the early adherence to such guidelines had enabled the expansion of the Muslim-State and the spread of the religion as well. Nevertheless, the early Muslims were more comprehensively Muslims, as fresh and enthusiastic to the philosophy and implementations of Islam. Islam had set framework for social conduction that secures the community to orderly function, and enable the individuals to seize fair opportunities to prosperity and comfort. Accordingly, it is clear that Islam supports all forms of marriage that are broadly soft, peaceful and cheered, rather than those would leave emotional hurts in any form. Accordingly, it is clear that Islam supports all forms of marriage that are broadly soft, peaceful and cheered, rather than those would leave emotional hurts in any form. Both Bride and Groom have full freedom to accept or reject proposals. Families and elders are supposedly to elaborate the matching and advise the consensual consent. Muslims are advised to seek earlier marriage, which is proven healthier, and requires close support and incubation. Arranged Marriage is acceptable subject to the free will of both Bride and Groom. This reads the interests of families, and enables success; if associated with fair assessment and consent. Despite the fact that early Arabs had known and practiced the early-puberty or adolescence marriage, it is not compulsory as related to levels of socio-cultural set-up and psychological readiness. The fact that many Muslims practice the same cannot be used to condemn Islam for the same. Muslims were clearly guided to adapt their living practices as per their timely knowledge and suitability. A common Islamic ruling tells that Forced Marriage or forged consent of Marriage, if proven; imminently annuls the marriage, and prosecute who conspire for it. Abduction in peace time is an act of “Hirabah”, which means piracy or act of unlawful warfare; is the most punishable crime in Islam. The judge would choose one of four sever sentences: execution, crucifixion, limbs amputation or exile. These extreme punishments were meant to abort the perpetration, which is evilly inspired. Compensation Marriage is Slavery if committed to an under-aged female or Forced Marriage if committed to an adult. Slavery is not cheered for Muslims to practice and prohibited if done to a Muslim by another Muslim. Both Gunshot and Rehabilitation Marriages are deemed to be social reconciliation apart from the punishment on unlawful consensual act between the couple. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah said: “An orphan girl should be consulted with regard to marriage, and if she remains silent, that is her permission. If she refuses, then she is not to be forced”. In 2011, the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices [Criminal Law Amendment] Act, was passed by the Federal Government in a bid to prevent and prescribe punishments for women ís forced marriages and inheritance deprivation, whether they be in the form of exchange marriage [watta- satta], compensation marriage [swara, wanni, etc.], Quran marriage, or under any other compulsion. The Act amended the Pakistan Penal Code [PPC] [section 310-A], whereas three new provisions were added [sections 498A, 498B and 498C]. Upon close look, one finds that there have been no significant gains made by women under the protection of this law and it has remained largely unknown and unimplemented. Socially, forced marriages are unlikely to be reported in Pakistan where women are considered and treated as repositories of family honor, whose defiance or disobedience is tantamount to public shame and humiliation. This felt shame and humiliation often crosses class and ethnic divisions. The tight control on women bodies and their sexuality, besides dictating whom she can or cannot marry, also lead to pandemic proportions of domestic and sexual violence, including rape, forced abortion, denial of contraception, maternal morbidity and mortality. In addition to this, women across Pakistan are often forced to renounce their share in family inheritance due to social sanctions against such claims. Moreover, women are married forcibly, kept from marriage or subjected to severe physical and emotional abuse as strategies to prevent them from laying any rightful claims to the family estate. Forced marriages differ from arranged ones, which may have been set up by a relative or friend but are willingly agreed to by the couple. An indication of being made to marry someone against their will is ‘a feeling’, says Sue from Central Manchester Women’s Aid. “You know from a young age whether you can say yes or no to your parents. “And on the day of the ceremony, it is extremely difficult for anyone to say no when everything has been organized.” “Its tradition, not religion, that is the problem,” says Jasvinder Sanghera, who runs a charity that helps forced marriage victims and survived a forced marriage herself. FORCED MARRIAGE AND ISLAMIC LAW Despite the fact that early Arabs had known and practiced the early-puberty or adolescence marriage, it is not compulsory as related to levels of socio-cultural set-up and psychological readiness. The fact that many Muslims practice the same cannot be used to condemn Islam for the same. Muslims were clearly guided to adapt their living practices as per their timely knowledge and suitability. A common Islamic ruling tells that Forced Marriage or forged consent of Marriage, if proven; imminently annuls the marriage, and prosecute who conspire for it. Abduction in peace time is an act of “Hirabah”, which means piracy or act of unlawful kwarfare; is the most punishable crime in Islam. The judge would choose one of four sever sentences: execution, crucifixion, limbs amputation or exile. These extreme punishments were meant to abort the perpetration, which is evilly inspired. Compensation Marriage is Slavery if committed to an underaged female or Forced Marriage if committed to an adult. Slavery is not cheered for Muslims to practice and prohibited if done to a Muslim by another Muslim. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘An orphan girl should be consulted with regard to marriage, and if she remains silent, that is kher permission. If she refuses, then she is not to be forced. Abu Hurairah narrated that: The Messenger of Allah said: “An orphan is to be consulted about herself, then if she is silent that is her permission, and if she refuses, then do not authorize it (the marriage) for her” (meaning: when she attains the age of puberty and refuses it.) CONCEPT OF FORCED MARRIAGE IN ISLAM And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (Quran 30:21) Islam speaks against people using their authority and baradarism to encourage forced marriages in the name of Islam! Khansa Bint Khidam said “My father married me to his nephew, and I did not like this match, so I complained to the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace). He said to me “accept what your father has arranged.” I said “I do not wish to accept what my father has arranged.” He said “then this marriage is invalid, go and marry whomever you wish.” I said I have accepted what my father has arranged, but I wanted women to know that fathers have no right in their daughter’s matters (i.e. they have no right to force a marriage on them). Forced Marriages Whilst we understand the importance of love and compatibility, we must also ensure the approval of both parties. However, one must also recognize that forced marriage is a problem occurring today and Islam condemns it to the highest degree. The issue of forced marriages is not one that is limited to some Muslims, but Hindus, Sikhs and other religions also acknowledge it as a problem. As explained above, Islam regards marriage as a right of the individual and therefore others cannot make the decision for them. If a woman/man is forced in marriage then the marriage would not be valid and would therefore need to be cancelled. However, daughters and sons should also recognize the rights of their parents and come to an agreed solution before the marriage takes place. If this does not happen then those who forced the marriage and those who allowed it are both guilty and have committed a major sin. Forced marriage and Al Quran Islam is a religion which commands justice towards others, and forbids oppression. Allah said in the Qur’an: “Indeed, Allah orders justice, good conduct, and giving to relatives; and forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” [The Qur’an: an-Nahl 16:90] Islam is also a religion that forbids forcing people to do things against their will. This is emphasized, even in the matter of religion, as we find in the Qur’an: “There is no compulsion in religion; the right path has become distinct from the wrong…” [The Qur’an: al-Baqarah 2:256] If there is no compulsion in the most important of matters, then it is even more deserving that no person be compelled by another in matters which are of lesser importance, such as marriage. Forced marriage is something alien to Islam, and something which was openly opposed in the Qur’an, and by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Allah said: “O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them…” [The Quran: an-Nisaa’ 4:19] Forced marriage and Sunnah of Holy Prophet (SAWW) “A previously married woman must not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be given in marriage until her permission is sought.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, how her permission [to be given?” He replied, “By her silence.” [al-Bukhārī: 5136, Muslim: 1419] He also said: “A [virgin orphan girl should be consulted about [her marriage; if she remains silent, this is her permission, but if she refuses, there is no forcing her.” [Abū Dāwood: 2093] Furthermore, the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) serve to emphasize this ruling, as reported by Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him): “A young virgin woman came to the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and mentioned that her father had given her in marriage against her will, so the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) allowed her to exercise her choice.” [Abū Dāwood: 2096, Ibn Mājah: 1875] In another narration, al-Qāsim narrated: “A woman from the offspring of Ja‘far was afraid lest her guardian give her in marriage against her will, so she sent for two elderly men from the Anṣār [i.e., the companions of the Prophet], ‘Abdur-Raḥmān and Mujammi‘, the two sons of Jāriyah. They said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid, for Khansā’ bint Khidhām was given by her father in marriage against her will, then the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cancelled it.” [al-Bukhārī: 6969] From the proofs mentioned above, we see that the Qur’an and the statements of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly prohibit forced marriage, and that the judgements of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) serve as a practical implementation of these rulings which Muslims are obliged to follow. The scholars of Islam even differed over whether a woman has the choice to remain with her husband that she was forced to marry, with many of them saying that the marriage must be annulled and that should she wish to stay with him, the marriage contract must be carried out again with her express permission. Islamic Rulings Marriage without consent– In the Shāfi‘i and Ḥanbali school of thought the majority of scholars are of the view that if a woman is married off without her consent, then the marriage contract is invalid, because it is a forbidden contract which cannot be validated. According to the Ḥanafi school of thought, the contract is dependent upon the woman’s acceptance. If she gives her consent then it is valid, otherwise she may annul it. If the son or daughter likes someone else: Ibn Muflih al-Ḥanbali (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: The parents have no right to force their son to marry someone he does not want. Shaykh Ibn Tayymiyyah said: Neither of the parents has the right to force their son to marry someone whom he does not want, and if he refuses, he is not sinning by disobeying them, because no one has the right to force him to eat food he finds off-putting when there is food that he wants to eat, and marriage is like that and more so. Food that one is forced to eat is unpleasant for a short while, but a forced marriage lasts for a long time, and it harms a person and he cannot leave it. Concerning a minor: According to Mufti E. Desai, since Islam does not allow a minor to conduct business or make financial decisions for himself or herself, a marital contract of a minor falls under the same premise. However, Islam does not give a father the right to use his children’s wealth without their permission, so how can he be allowed to decide, without the daughter’s permission, how her body (which is more important than her wealth) is to be used, especially when she disagrees. Concerning a young woman or a widow/divorcee: Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: “A previously married woman may not be married without her command, and a never married woman may not be married without her permission; and permission for her is to remain silent.” (Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and others) The exergies of this Prophetic tradition is that if she does not speak up that means that she is giving consent. A wali (close male relative) is a command-executor in the case of the previously married woman and is permission-seeker in the case of a never-married woman. FORCED MARRIAGE PRACTICES IN PAKISTAN: Forced marriages may seem to be a remote problem in other parts of the world but marriages with an unwilling participant are more pervasive than anyone would suspect. With the continued support of government and social services, more victims will be able to come forward and, in time, this practice may be drastically reduced. A distinction should be drawn between forced marriages and an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, either party has the ability to refuse the other, whereas in a forced marriage, one party must marry without their consent. However, the lines between these two types of matrimony can easily become blurry due to familial, cultural and religious pressure to follow through with an arranged marriage. What may appear to one party to have the ability to withhold consent, familial pressure and manipulation of resources on behalf of the victim is a common practice that clouds whether a marriage was truly consensual or not. Further, because of these same pressures, many victims of forced marriage are reluctant to report their status, making the true numbers of forced marriages very hard to accurately assess and to assist on a systematic basis. Forced marriages occur frequently with victims both under and over 18 years of age. Though it is not the same as human trafficking, it is akin to it in many ways as victims are often transported for the purpose of these marriages and they are often held against his or her will until the marriage is completed. A common scenario is, for example, returns to his or her family’s country of origin, often under the pretext of visiting, and then is not allowed to return until he or she agrees to marry someone whom his or her family has selected in that country. Sometimes, this involves months or even years of virtual captivity before the victim either submits or finds a way of escaping his or her situation. The ability of law enforcement and social services to accurately assess and respond to these situations is limited but growing because of increased awareness, reporting and training. There is an ongoing dispute in many jurisdictions worldwide about whether criminalizing forced marriages will alleviate or exacerbate the problem, because of general reluctance to report the problem to authorities or government welfare agencies in the first place and particularly if the victim knows that close family members might suffer criminal penalties for their actions. Though all nations have laws and sanctions for kidnapping and human trafficking-related offenses, it is unclear whether these penalties will be sufficient to protect victims of forced marriages. It is also unclear whether specific criminalization of forced marriage itself will help or hurt when it comes to curtailing the practice, as many victims do not want to see their close family members prosecuted. In Pakistan, several young girls/women are forced into wed-lock against their consent. Pakistan is a Muslim country, and Islam gives full rights to girls to marry as per their own choice, still we fail to follow Islam, and injustice against women is continuing. Constitution of Pakistan prohibits under-age marriages. No boy under 18 and no girl under 16 are allowed to marry. Unfortunately, the laws are only enacted, but no one is willing to act upon these laws which can protect women and young girls. During the period 1999-2009, more than 950 cases of forced marriages were reported, and in recent years the conditions are getting deteriorated day by day. The saddening news is that a five-year-old girl was married in Mardan, and the local police was unable to register a case against the accused, and they were left free. I would like to request the concerned authorities to introduce laws against forced marriages, and ensure full safety of young and small girls. —Turbat, Balochistan Forced marriages are common in Pakistan. The menace does not only affect people in Pakistan, but also puts to suffering, people residing outside Pakistan, who are settled in foreign countries. They marry their sons and daughters against their consent to members of their family in Pakistan for various purposes, mostly to help get members of their family citizenship of the foreign country. Another possible purpose behind this could be family settlement of properties and mutual benefits of involved parties. Recently, a new tendency has surfaced with regards to forced marriages, where the marriages are based on conspiracies to abducting a minor child. Forced marriages with these motives usually takes place in remote areas where poor girls are married off just for the sake of a child. The parties involved in this marriage normally pick orphaned or poor, illiterate girls with two temptations; the first relating to the girl being chosen possessing certain noble and pious qualities. They further manage this marriage while denying any need for dower or other expenses for the marriage. While this may seem like a good intention from the boy’s family what hides behind this false humbleness to deceive the girl’s family is many a times the plan to return the girl back to Pakistan by deceiving her visiting her home country for the holidays and then abandoning her there. This chain of events is very tactfully conducted with the help of the boy or one of his family members, who accompany the girl on her visit to Pakistan but after a few days very cleverly, returns the foreign country with the minor child and the travel documents of the girl. Then the child remains with the family of the boy. Since the girl does not have any documents allowing her to travel back to her in laws, she is left with no option but to stay in Pakistan. A forced marriage is not a cultural matter but a criminal offence that must be investigated, even if collaboration from other governments is necessary, so that those at risk are protected. LEGAL AND RELIGIOUS STANDING According to International Human Rights law, an early (forced) marriage is an abuse of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Constitution of Pakistan provides legal guarantees, safeguarding the rights of both genders without any discrimination under articles 4, 8, 14, 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, 37 and 38. In 2004, the Criminal Law Act was enacted under which section 310(a) penalizes badal-e-sulh, under which girls/women cannot be given in marriage as compensation for someone else’s crime. It directly deals with all forms of “marriage as compensation” carried out under different names, such as swara, wani, sang chatt and irjaee. Recently, according to the Prevention of Anti-Women practices (criminal law amendment) act 2011, anyone imposing a forced marriage on a woman would face imprisonment which may extend to ten years but not less than three years and shall also be liable to fine of 500,000 rupees. For marriage with the holy quran, badla-e-sulh, wanni or swara the imprisonment ranges from three to seven years and the perpetrator may be fined 5000, details here. Islam gives women the right to choose and reject or accept the marriage proposals even against their parents will. The Qur’an states “o you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion…” (4:19). Similarly, Prophet Mohammad(pbuh) said, “the widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until her order is obtained, and the virgin girl shall not be married until her permission is obtained.” (bukhari, 67:42). how the religion changes form in the society is what makes facts turn out differently. To substantiate the current prevailing agony of forced marriages in Pakistan there is below narrated story of a Pakistani girl which depicts the ugly face of force marriages. The story of a little poor girl Aena who got married after getting a perfect proposal, went abroad and lived a worse life than the servants. When she went there, the husband told her that he’s not interested in her at all and he just needed someone to look after his big house and a son which he had. Aena was shocked that her parents didn’t tell her about his son or he’s married before but when she asked her parents, they were not aware that her husband already had a son. But her parents said whatever it is now it’s your faith and you have to deal with it now. Later on, after a few months he started beating her up when he came home back from work or partying with his friends. He would roam around with random girls and would sometimes stays night out. On one, evening he was drunk after partying with his girlfriend, came home and asked Aena to make her feel comfortable give her food to eat and be her slave but when she refused, he took the glass bottle and broke it so hard on her head that the blood came down to her cheeks!! This had been happening as a routine and her medical condition was getting worse day by day. But she had no option because not only her passport was taken away from her but also, she was deprived of her right to go back to Pakistan. Even while talking to her parents on a phone call, she has special supervision over her head so that she would not tell her parents what happened to her. After 2.5 years of continuous mental and physical suffering, she was helped by a woman to escape who was noticing her by the window of her house which was opposite to Aena’s.Then she took her, gave shelter to her for some days secretly and took her to the embassy, where she called her parents and told them about the problems, she had been facing for the past 4 years in the name of marriage. Eventually, arrangements were made for this girl to go back to Pakistan. Three years have passed since this whole incident happened to her but the girl is still in shock. The parents don’t investigate about the groom’s family and force their daughter to get married. After that, the girl faces a lot of problems there. She suffers oppression in silence and is not able to raise a single voice over this violence. So, we should provide awareness to every girl to prevent her from being a victim of violence. Government should also take serious legal action against this type of serious issues like forced cross culture marriages and domestic violence. Law enforcement’s response to violence against women is minimal, largely due to deeply rooted societal gender bias, inconsistent court rulings, and the government’s view that such issues are private family matters. Rather than filing charges, authorities typically respond to domestic violence situations by encouraging the parties to reconcile or by returning women to their abusive family members, and treating cases of domestic violence as non-criminal matters. Corruption is also widespread within law enforcement and governmental agencies in certain areas of Pakistan, and families may be able to use bribery to influence authorities’ response. As noted earlier, certain parts of Pakistan are also governed by tribal law and custom, and women may have little protection from family and community sanctioned violence in such areas. There are state run agencies and shelters (including the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto centers) that are dedicated to providing assistance to victims of forced marriage and other forms of gender-based violence in Pakistan, as well as a growing NGO community offering shelter and services in country. The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.