Recently, I read the diary of a divorced girl in one of Pakistan’s English dailies. Unfortunately, I could relate to almost everything there except that I had supporting parents and a brother who believed in me, not others. I am thankful to that anonymous blogger who gave me this courage to write down my experiences on a public platform. Back in 2008, when I came back home after living with my ex-husband for a period of 18 months, it took me almost 2 months to file my complaint in Sharia Court. I will not get into the unnecessary details of why and how I reached the decision of divorce but social consequences of that decision were not trivial and I managed to weather through them with the support of my loved ones. It’s 21st century and people still believe marriage means “never coming out of it”; especially for women in our society. If two people are unable to create a harmonised home and end up losing the sanity to function in the world then there is no point in staying under one roof, or for that matter sleep on the same bed with never ending silence in between. I belong to a middle class family where my parents taught me that “struggle” is your strength but do not “compromise over your dignity”, ever. Unfortunately, my family does not represent society! I still remember the day before I had to sign my divorce papers; my uncle told me that I had to choose between the two fights. One fight was to go back to my in-laws and fight to survive or come back and fight to exist in society with the stigma of being a divorcee. I chose latter. It was not an easy decision and I went through each and every stage of grief for years. It was after that time has passed, I realised that my strength was my family, friends, and education. Divorce is not just a word, it’s a label. People use the term “talaaq-yaftaa”, literally “divorcee” while referring to me disrespectfully. I, on the other hand, take it as a relationship status. If you can be married, engaged, in an open-relationship then why not divorced? I often tell people that I divorced my ex-husband and that proves he was not worth it but it hardly helps my argument. The first thing the society will warn you at the time of divorce is virginity, and you will ask yourself, “seriously?” Unfortunately, they are serious. In our social setup, virginity belongs to women only therefore when you are divorced, you will be considered as “used”. A close relative told me that I am “second-hand” hence I should not be picky in choosing my second husband and compromise for any tom dick or harry. Trust me I or anyone of us is not a thing which can be “used”. We are humans, we commit mistakes, and if given a little courage and support from our social system, we can also claim our peace of mind with due happiness. If you are around divorced women, remember: Don’t consider us desperate for you Don’t take advantage of any kind of vulnerability Don’t characterise us negatively Don’t challenge our dignity or self-respect Don’t label us as home-breaker Don’t ask us to narrate the story. It hurts! Make us laugh If you are a woman, who’s stuck in an unhealthy or unhappy marriage and not taking a decision because “log kya kahen gay” (what will people say), remember: It’s your suffering, and not others Make yourself financially stronger Find people who can be your pillar in good or bad Unhappy relationships won’t build a happy home Don’t sulk, rather speak It’s not an easy decision but life was never a bed of roses As a woman, all of us want to build a peaceful home and live a happy married life but do not make it as an only objective in your life. If you are raising a daughter, educate her, teach her, and give enough exposure before she ‘settles’ down. There is no point in teaching and preaching women that without men they have no place in society otherwise our evolution as human beings is at halt. The dilemma of our society is that divorce happens between two people, but only one of them suffers. Thanks to the patriarchal society, it’s mostly women. I am not here to speak about equal rights or to take you through feminism 101. I just shared my experience as what happened, continue to happen and can be stopped if we as a society consider divorce an incident and not an incurable disease.