The right to choose

Dawn.com: Saeed Ahmed Rid.

MY three-year-old daughter, Sobh wanted to have a ritual of danwan which is reserved only for boys in some areas of rural Sindh. The ritual is held when a boy begins to learn how to walk. It involves putting a rope between the child’s legs. The rope is then cut by the eldest uncle on the mother’s side symbolising a release from all hurdles so that the child can walk and run freely.

Why is the ritual specific to boys and why are girls not allowed to have it? The reason is simple: the local people fear that if they have the same ritual for their daughters, they might run away with someone when they grow up. The right to free consent in marriage, especially for girls, is still a distant dream and the concept of marrying for love, taken for granted in Western societies, is still frowned upon in most rural areas in the country.

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