Dilemmas Of Singlehood In Contemporary Pakistani Culture: A Qualitative Study Of Unheard Voices
Marriage has always been central to women’s lives in Pakistan and to remain single is not only considered socially unacceptable but also perceived as non-compliance to the cultural hegemony of the institute of marriage. Pakistan is a country where marriage is considered mandatory and singlehood is viewed as anomalous particularly in the case of women. The present study put light on the experiences of those women who remain unmarried in a traditional society like Pakistan where women are generally seen only as wives and mothers. This study attempted to analyse the perspectives of never-married women with greater emphasis on the issues and challenges faced by them. The primary objective of this paper is to highlight the cultural and psycho-social aspects of
singlehood and to voice the opinions and ‘lived experiences’ of the never-married female from their perspective. In Pakistani culture, women are generally expected to get married by their mid-twenties. The study was conducted with the help of a qualitative phenomenological approach. It relied on anthropological methods of data collection from twenty never-married women over the age of thirty-five years. Findings revealed that respondents in this study acknowledged their latent desire to be married and having fulfilled lives, however, owing to some tragic socio-familial circumstances, such as financial constraints, the death of father and the responsibility to look after widowed mother and younger siblings, caste-based endogamy, lack of physical attractiveness, failure to find a compatible spouse, were identified as some of the contributory. Regardless of whether the causes for their single status were circumstantial or optional, unmarried women experience criticism, disgrace, loneliness, and feeling of being left out in a patriarchal societal setup where traditional gender role expectations bound women with marriage and motherhood.
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Copyright (c) 1970 Aneela Sultana, Farooq Ahmed, Mehwish Zeeshan
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