Bo Haro Poiro Che

My life as an Indian at this point consists solely and only of one thing: looking for a husband. Well, I may be exaggerating a little bit. No, I am not on a mad hunt for a man. I’m working. I’m studying. I’m living a peaceful (well, as peaceful as it can get with a family like mine) life and I’m growing up. While not many would agree with this, I think I am. I no longer wake up five minutes before I need to leave the house, dress, brush my teeth, sprint outside with socks, scarf, shoes, flask and the rest of world in my hands to complete my morning routine in the car. It’s a good start, the rest will come with time.

When you reach the age of twenty (I say twenty but everyone knows it starts at sixteen!) in the Indian society, your name is enlisted in a thing called ‘The Single Women’s Club’. Us, single women, are not part of this club nor do we have a say in it.

This club was established long ago when some old aunty had decided that Indian women, if not married by a certain age, would be considered too old to find a ‘Haro Poiro’ i.e a good boy, and then shrivel up and die single. She approached her fellow old aunty friends and they too agreed that this was a concern that needed to be dealt with so they started a secret club and decided that they’d never let this happen to a woman in their society. All of them would be happily married and making rotis for their Haro Poiros before the age of 25. So at weddings and funerals the old aunties would find their targets, draw the innocent girls in by asking simple questions at first and then they’d strike!

Their main phrase was: When are you getting married? I know such a good boy for you!

Naturally the girl would refuse so they’d go after the parents next. This went on until they found suitable matches for all the eligible girls then they’d wait excitedly for the next batch of girls to come of age.

When one became too old to do her job, she’d let her daughter into the club to carry on this noble work after her. This club is alive and thriving till today. It’s a secret club, that’s why you didn’t know about it. Well, now you do, you’re welcome.

As a twenty-year-old female, I have entered the club’s radar. All eyes are on me. As I go on with my everyday life, there’s always the talk of my future husband.

It’s a common discussion in my house since I am the next in line to get married anyway. I’m always being asked questions like: “What do you want in a husband?” “Would it be a problem if he lived in…?” “What do you expect from him after marriage”

I also live with a very opinionated mother who already has a long list of demands and prerequisites for her future son-in-law and a father who is adamant on finding me the best (May Allah bless them).

But with everyone giving me their own opinions, this leaves me very confused.

So recently my cousin got married and I met a lot of the old aunties who kept telling me that I’m next in line.  They asked me when I’m going to get married and some of the ‘Aunties-versions 2.0’ would have the nerve to ask me if I had a boyfriend. Um… hello? My parents may be slightly more modern than the average Indian parents but that does not mean they’d let me get away with a boyfriend easily. No, I’d get away crawling on my knees after ± 35 hits with a sjambok and the wooden spoon and maybe if I’m lucky I’d escape without the velan but there is no such thing as luck in an Indian household so I’d most probably get the velan too. Also, haram! Let’s not forget that.

When I’m asked when I’m going to get married, my answer is, “I still have time, I don’t need to worry about that now,” and it’s true. I’m only twenty and I have many dreams and goals and as it is I’m confused about what I want in a husband. But that’s fine too because when the time comes for me to choose, when I see him, I hope it’ll fall into place. Not in a novel ‘love at first sight’ nor a ‘sparks and fireworks’ kind of way but I hope that I’d be ready to decide if he is who I want to spend my life with based on what I know about him.

I also know that I’d have the support of my parents and their advice and wisdom to guide me in a decision affecting the rest of my life.

I have experienced friends who would try their best to help me and my teachers and mentors who would kick me if I made a decision based on the butterflies in my stomach and didn’t look at the bigger picture.

Right now I’m dealing with a series of potential suitors. Some are too short (tall people problems) and some are perfect but in the wrong country. It’s a long process to find the missing piece of the puzzle.

But guess what? There’s no rush! (I’m not going to mention my outbursts every once in a while when I just want to get married because all of my friends are getting married and I complain about my husband taking so long to make his grand appearance. Mentioning that would defeat the purpose of my whole speech) Because good things take time 😉

Single and ready to mingle

Hafsa Umar

UNWANTED

“In the times of ignorance, they buried girls alive.”

When I was young I would read this sentence in our Islamic History books and naturally, being a female, I was appalled. I’d think, “Well, I’m grateful that I was born long after those days!”

Isn’t it great that people don’t do that anymore? Well, yes, it would be great if people didn’t do that anymore.

But? They do.

Wait. What am I talking about?

Montenegro – a country in the Balkans. People who consider women to be inferior to men so that is exactly how women are treated there. I know that that is a problem in many other places too, that is why we have groups of amazing women fighting for women’s rights everywhere. But the people of Montenegro have taken it to a whole new level.

 Demographic statistics confirm that in Montenegro the average for newborns is 100 females to 116 males. [Erik Messori/CAPTA/Al Jazeera]

 

There’s an open secret. It was kept quiet until the Women’s Right Centre decided to speak up about it. This open secret I’m talking about? Selective abortion.

You don’t want a daughter because she won’t be able to carry your surname when she gets married? Well, that’s fine! Just take a prenatal test. If it’s a girl, you could always get an abortion. It’s that easy… and ugly beyond belief.

A billboard from the UNWANTED campaign. It says: “Your parents wanted a son and that’s why you did not have a chance to be born… Sorry”
Milena, 29, has three children – her firstborn daughter Ines, and two sons Fedja and Bodin. Pregnant women in Montenegro often undertake a prenatal test to determine the gender of their babies. [Erik Messori/CAPTA/Al Jazeera]

I thought we had surpassed the time when women were considered nothing, when we were considered the possession of another and only good enough to bear offspring. I thought we were passed the time when the only pride of the family would be a baby boy to carry the name to the next generation. A time when there would be pressure on women regarding the gender of the child they bore, as if the gender could be controlled! This is absolutely absurd. You’re going to kill thousands of baby girls for the chance to give birth to a boy?

I mentioned in my last post, that we need to have a check on these peoples’ humanity and once again I have more proof that humanity no longer exists.

In a time that we call ‘the times of ignorance,’ they would bury their daughters alive. Giving birth to a baby girl was a shame because they needed a boy to carry on the family name. If the mother gave birth to a girl, she would be concealed and then disposed of in secret.

 

Mujo and Nermina have one son and she is 9 months pregnant. They are delighted that the new baby will be a boy. It is estimated that Montenegro, which has a population of just over 620,000, will have 8,000 to 10,000 more men than women by 2025. [Erik Messori/CAPTA/Al Jazeera]

 

You must be thinking, “But this isn’t the same thing!” Yes, my dear reader, it is. The only difference is that now we have the technology and tools to determine the gender before birth so it can be dealt with before things go too far. But they killed souls then and souls are being killed now. You might argue that it is not the same thing but us humans have different views, I guess.

I’ve heard and read of many who argue that Islam is oppressive to women. We have no rights and we’re restricted, according to them. I’d like to inform these people that when our Prophet, Muhammad (may peace be upon him) started spreading Islam, one of the first things that were cut out was the killing of innocent girls unnecessarily. Islam protected those girls and taught those families that to give birth to a girl was an honor. I speak as a female in Islam: In our homes, we are honored and looked after like one would look after his treasure and if we conceal ourselves, it’s not because we’re oppressed, it’s just because we’re too valuable to just be left exposed for anyone to even look at.

So the next time you try to accuse Islam of being oppressive to Muslim women, think about that. Also, think of the fact that it is not Muslim parents aborting their would-be beautiful daughters in Montenegro.

 A young girl lights a candle at the memorial for girls who were never born at the university park in Podgorica. [Erik Messori/CAPTA/Al Jazeera]

 

Always fighting for the lives of females

Hafsa Umar, reporting for Change for the 22nd – News Our perspective (What’s happening Worldwide)