Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, October 20th, 2017

Marriage and Cultural Traditions

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Marriage and Cultural Traditions

Getting married is a milestone in one’s life. Marriage, from social perspective, is a sustainable and purposeful bond between two persons (male and female). Getting married is an optional issue and based on one’s willingness; however, the sociality of mankind is crucial in this decision-making. The sophisticated interaction of human beings with their surroundings relates marriage with cultural, social, economic and even political issues. In addition to satisfying the carnal and emotional desires of mankind, marriage, which is a universal norm, will also organize social, cultural and economic needs. The fact that when one will feel having a life-partner differs from person to person. A number of individuals will feel a strong need to get married during their teenage life period, whereas some others will take step in this regard in their middle age. In traditional societies, these decisions will be taken by families and parents – who claim the rights of selecting life-partners for their sons and daughters. The age for getting married has mounted in societies where traditions are eroded. Those who seek to strengthen their economy tend to get married later, which might be worthy since a fully grown person will select his/her life-partner with open view. But postponing married life to an unnecessary time will result in emotional and mental harm. So, getting married should take place neither too soon nor too late.
It goes without saying that false custom will be an obstacle before the social and sacred issue of marriage, which is deeply-rooted in people’s cultural life. Culture is embodied in each and every thing, including religious and irreligious matters. In other words, culture will rule every angle of life and custom/tradition is one of its elements. Custom is handed down from one generation to the next, bearing symbolic and particular significance, rooted in the past, and divided into the positive and negative. To view it from international and human rights perspectives, negative custom will violate human rights. Indeed, custom of marriage differs from place to place and there are negative and positive traditions. Negative custom will lead to horrible consequence and irreparable loss in a society.    
To view the negative traditions of marriage in Afghanistan, where men have upper hand, many traditions – including polygamy and forced and under-aged marriages – will harm women more than men. It is worth saying that such traditions will not only harm women but also men and even families. Traditions are practiced upon in strict way in Afghanistan and affected the life of many people creating great hurdles. Since, many are committed to observe traditions, changing them will be really difficult. But acculturalization is possible so that the negative traditions change into positive ones.
Forced marriages are one of the challenging issues in Afghanistan and inflicted great sufferings upon the society and families. Based on the tradition that parents should be entitled to select life-partners for their children, the teenage boys and girls tend to disobey their parents and this will result in chagrin and discontent. Secondly, the financial aspect of marriage is also a problem. For example, some families will agree in terms of their children’s marriages without involving their sons or daughters. They even agree to exchange their daughters to get rid of the financial problem. Such kinds of marriages resulted in serious arguments, every once in a while, within families and embittered their life. Giving “baad” (giving one’s daughter without her willing to victim’s family so as to reciprocate the sexual crime of her brother) is believed to be one of the worst kinds of tradition. This is mostly taken place between two families with the aim of settling an argument or preventing one from taking revenge. This type of marriage will embitter life for the girl since the victim’s family will treat the girl out of revenge and will even torture her. Hence, this is another reason behind domestic violence and, in many cases, spark off more tension between families.
There are many negative traditions that can be the subject of vast researches. The influential factors are: economic issue, religious beliefs, the society’s attitude towards women, and misconception of marriage. These are the main factors of creating false and negative traditions that have constituted serious problems vis-à-vis marriages and people are their daily casualties, that is, slicing nose, murder, violence, escape, self-immolation, divorce, and immigration are the consequence of such traditions. This is the patriarchal view that place suffering over women, i.e., women are more vulnerable for their particular stance in the society. In getting married, women usually lack the right to choose their life-partners. Moreover, the tradition of “baad” or the exchanges of girls for financial problems reflect women’s inability in the society.
In short, the traditions of selling women, which is rife in some parts of the country, or under-aged marriage will leave women more vulnerable than men. Giving birth in early age increases the mortality rate among mothers and will pose serious mental and physical threat to women. The solution to reform these traditions needs to be figured out.

Fatima Faizi is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. She can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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