Consent, coercion and other things in between.

Not only a girl went missing but the unimaginable happened too.

She was found.

If any of you think getting lost is a rare occasion, consider this! Being found by the police is even rare.

Under a patriarchy, women abscond everyday. Some are abducted. Some kill themselves to end it all. Some engage in violence themselves. There continues to be a percentage that dreams of some salvation that has been promised to them in the form of a man on a horse, galloping through a desert, rescuing them and returning them to where they belong. Some might think that’s what women want. Women might tell you they don’t want to go back to where they were. It’s a mess. Patriarchy doesn’t listen to women because it operates on predetermined programs of status quo.

The girl was found, as per reports. And guess what? She had actually eloped as per the reports. And she’s happy as per a recorded account.

The truth is just as clear as the little swamp of dirt and animal excreta outside any house in Karachi. The girl herself is a minor, only 14 years old, so a lot of what she says isn’t reliable because she is presumably under duress. Women who get kidnapped say just as few bad things about their kidnappers as they say about their patriarchs. The truth never comes out.

The incident is getting a lot of popularity because it has opened up another can of worms. In a country with religious leanings and a strong conviction in karma, now our youth is facing karmic punishments for the sins of their parents and in some clergymen’s words, for the sins of the entire Muslim world that’s just not operating according to how they are supposed to.

So of course some of you have considered this almost anticipated. Pakistan is so wayward that this was bound to happen, you fold back the newspaper and get ready for work as you lament where the country is going .

But some of us have caught on a rather severe angle of human rights violation. You are asking if this girl even had the right to consent. You are citing her age as the reason why she can’t consent. The infantilization of women has been discussed here before so I won’t get into it. Needless to say, in this particular case this concern seems somewhat legitimate that this girl was coerced to leave her parents and elope.

Others believe that women are the problem. That education, employment, clothing, free socializing with men is the problem. That distance from religion is the problem. That this girl is the problem. Her kidnap/elopement is just a product of what had been a long time coming due to personal and social actions that she was intentionally and unintentionally engaging in. That this girl’s parents’ upbringing is the problem. Why aren’t other girls kidnapped? Why aren’t all girls eloping? What was so wrong with the basic moral fiber of a Muslim Pakistani girl that she deviated from the very formation of patriarchy where women don’t elope? They prefer dying.

I think we have started to believe our own crap. When tales of partition of India and Pakistan are told, men proudly relate the suicides of thousands of women when these women feared rape. Men tell us, over and over, how large-scale pits were dug where women could throw themselves in to avoid any danger of rape. The pits swallowed them alive. Their purported honor was saved. Their men could live in dignity.

So the problem for the patriarchy isn’t that this girl was coerced. If you think that mainstream media is a supporter of women and women’s rights, think again! This is the same media that endorses the patriarchy everyday. They’re not on our side.

If you think that Pakistani middle class parents are worried about their child’s safety more than anything else, you probably live in a society where your empathy can deduce that. If you lived under a patriarchy, you’d know that what you feel for your child and what you fear for her is only secondary and maybe not even that. There is a whole slew of questions that you’d have to answer about your parenting techniques, the kind of freedom your child enjoyed at your home, and the influences that you brought around them that led to this. Your grief can wait another day or week or month.

Some of you are charged with another conundrum. This is simply a fault with parenting. They were likely an abusive parent, like their child says under duress. They didn’t let her spread her wings, you favor kidnapping subconsciously. Why would she give such a statement against her parents? You think kidnapping/elopement will get her the life she deserves.

Yet some of you will call this non consensual as the girl now says that she has married her boyfriend. But she is only 14, you’re right to say that but may I remind you that under a patriarchy, no woman consents? We are all in some form of a non consensual bond most of the time.

So basically, this is a woman writing, far from the patriarchy but not too far, nevertheless. I’m under my bedcovers as I write this and patriarchy is right outside my door, which is actually the most distance that I can have on a good day.

Maybe all of it is true! Maybe her parents were so bad that she eloped. Maybe someone coerced her and now she is taping statements under pressure. Maybe she was kidnapped and the kidnappers have actually produced a marriage certificate to avoid any suspicion of wrongdoing. Maybe she was and remains blinded by love. Maybe she was looking for attention.

But regardless of which way you slice it, one thing is for sure. She was very young. So young that she didn’t plan it like the patriarchy wanted her to. She should’ve suffered under purported parental abuse. Or waited to get married. Or killed herself as someone approached to kidnap her. Or shouldn’t have released statements.

She’s so young that she doesn’t realize that a woman trapped between the clergy, judiciary and police isn’t getting out ever, even when her kidnappers release her.

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