Stop stigmatizing divorce

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have split and made front line news amongst the UNGA and the India-Pakistan tiff. They were a power couple; no financial woes; a joint love for adopting babies and helping the less fortunate and no shortage of phenotypic symmetry called sex appeal.

Yet, we find, there can still be things can that anger you about a man. What I find strange is that the world is making a scandal of it in two ways. They are enjoying the blood sport of a wrecked marriage and they are pitting Angelina Jolie against Jennifer Aniston, Pitt’s ex girlfriend.

Their reaction leads to two conclusions: It’s so gloat-worthy when a woman can’t keep a prize like Brad Pitt in her control and also that somehow the cast away Aniston has lived to see a day she was waiting for, confirming that all women do all day is wait for women they hate to fall flat on their face.

The world, regardless of affluence, education or location loves to see women fail at homemaking of various versions and beats them down with vitriol and reconfirms the notion to claw women against each other.

Here in our part of the world this happens, of course it does, but only at a more gut-wrenching scale. Women have to routinely keep up with the wife beater, the marital rapist, the one with whom their pheromones don’t match, the obsessive addict, the one whose personal hygiene is more like a boar’s, the one who is emotionally abusive, the one who is a serial husband and the one with the insatiable desire to be codependent on his mother for duration of his life.

Why can’t these women leave? They can’t leave because they get treated worse than the Brangelina debacle. These women get taken down in the public arena where old wives talk as if they were men’s spokespeople, as if divorced women were not people but effigies – without feelings and without consent. Nobody is strong enough to rise above a loss of social status and equity. Years of evolution have made us possess an in-built mechanism of seeing approval from those who are self appointed tribe heads – the pundits, the opinion makers or the old wives.

Lets also examine why post-menopausal women are so bitter and revengeful and why they target young women who opt for divorce. Why they call those women fallen, rejected, incompetent and loathsomely, used. They buy into the notion that women have a use-by date; the older women tolerated the bad men in their lives and chose to stay; they see things through the eyes of their sons and husbands and they also are extremely fearful of the alternative of rejecting a man. It’s meant death for some.

There can be several reasons for divorce, which go both ways, yet it is the woman who is always made to be at fault. It is her who’s got to pick up the pieces of the wreckage with little or no support from family and friends. People inadvertently keep away from people whose luck and fortune wane.

The divorce laws in Pakistan may not be in the dumps entirely, but the culture of marriage is cloaked in hypocrisy, in secrecy and in haste, with hardly any input from the woman or any deliberation on how future decisions will be planned.

Unless otherwise specified, the right of delegated divorce (talaq-e- tafweez) is hardly given to the women who enter marriage in Pakistan. However Khula is a right available to women. Nevertheless for Khula women have to forfeit their haq-mahr, or dower. Our family law practice preys on women’s weakness, celebrates male bravado.

The best way to empower our daughters is to have them get into marriage with a clear exit policy. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t and here are the steps. When we tell our young nubile girls who have no clue about the viciousness of men, that they should only turn back to their father’s homes when they die, we are essentially getting them to jump off a cliff. Its brutal, its in human and it is certainly not grounded in the statistics of our land – 90 percent of our women are subjected to violence.




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