Time to introspect


Recently, three girls from different localities of Karachi went missing within ten days. Earlier this week, nikkahnamas i.e. marriage certificates of two of the girls — Dua Zehra Kazmi and Nimra Kazmi — surfaced on social media followed by two separate video statements. Both girls were found in Punjab and claimed to have left their homes and married of their own free will. However, both families have asserted that the girls are under the age of 18. If their claims are true, the marriages will be annulled, and those responsible should face criminal charges.

Police investigations have revealed that both girls met their ‘spouses’ online via gaming chat rooms or social media, which has raised alarm over the misuse of digital media and the need for regulation. In all likelihood, many parents will use these incidents to impose stricter rules on their children and prevent them from accessing social media. However, this can be counterproductive. In fact, there is good reason to believe that our children are resorting to extreme measures such as eloping to escape the suffocating environments at home. Most coming-of-age children experience hormonal changes, mood swings and physical and emotional growth, which they are unable to navigate in a healthy way. The inability to discuss these changes with their parents or other family members, coupled with regressive rules and boundaries, makes them feel conflicted. Also, social media has enabled us to consume content from across the world, which can cloud children’s understanding and set unreasonable precedents.

Parents can no longer continue blaming their children for everything; they must take these recent incidents as an opportunity to self-reflect and consider stepping out of the retrogressive norms. Importantly, marriage should not be overemphasised as an end goal but as a regular life event that takes place in due age and time. To ensure a healthy home environment, parents should allow their children to have agency and autonomy and should behave compassionately with children when dealing with sensitive issues. Otherwise, such incidents will become a regular occurrence and tarnish our social fabric.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2022.

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