Izzat

In a lot of cultures, izzat (honour) is a massive concept.  Indo-Pak culture normally uses izzat as a useful emotional blackmail tool.  Don’t do this or you ruin our family name etc.

It seems that we can’t escape the “honour” line even after marriage.  My friend, newly married, agreed to live in an extended family situation.  It was made clear to her before marriage that this would be the case, so in all fairness, there were never any fairytales of moving out.  Whilst she knew this, young age made sure she was too naive to understand the consequences of what this really meant.

Living within an extended family, one would think, allows you a  degree of flexibility in visiting your own parents.  You are afterall living with them 24hours a day, what’s a visit a few times a week to your family, siblings etc.  My friend was shamed at a recent gathering by her MIL announcing to the guests what she thought to be acceptable parenteral visitation rights.  “Daughters shouldn’t go over more than once a week she stated.  It doesn’t keep our izzat if the girl keeps going to her parents”.

How in the name of all that’s holy is their izzat affected by a visit here or there to family members?  Are they panicking that the secret family biryani recipe is about to come out?  Is it about ensuring that she won’t talk about the state of the MIL in the morning after one too many masala chai?

As she sits there crying over the unfairness of it all, we are both well aware of the reason.  Control.  Unless she’s prepared to engage in a battle to take back her life, which I doubt she will, there’s really not much she can do about it.  And she will most likely become yet another obedient daughter in-law, moulded by our nemesis, izzat.

11 thoughts on “Izzat

  1. Oh my word. This is exactly what happened to me. First it started off with me not being allowed to go to the gym, any extra Islamic classes, shopping etc. Visiting friends became a problem for them so I stopped seeing my friends. Then it went onto visiting family only once a week. After a while, even that became an issue. My now ex husband and his family refused to let me visit my parents. It was all about control and medieval cultural expectations. I decided to get out before I completely lost myself.

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  2. I think the best say to deal with this is: 1. Make sure you are financially independent. If your husband turns out to be a pathetic mummy’s boy who will kow-tow to his family’s every whim to keep the peace you need to make sure you have options in life. 2. Be clear from the beginning: hey, in-laws, this is the new regime SUCK IT UP AND DEAL WITH IT. I hope that while I would be flexible for reasonable demands, and show respect to my in-laws, I also would be very averse to meddling in my life and see it as a massive red flag if hubby couldn’t deal with it.

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    • I suppose there always needs to be a degree to which we need to be smart as woman and I agree with making sure you’re financially secure or able to go it alone if something does happen.

      Reality JoJo, ‘telling’ in laws that this is the new regime does not happen lol. That’s why I think you need to be savvy enough beforehand to make sure you thrash it all out and then I think you possibly have more leverage if it’s not stuck to. Even then you’ll have to put up with tension etc but just have to brace yourself and hope you hubs does have the backbone to support you and stick to what was agreed.

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      • I hope I wouldn’t go down the DEAL WITH IT route unless I really had to! I do think respect, kindness and compassion go a long way first, but if all else fails and they are placing unreasonable demands on you you just have to get on with your own life and fit them in when you can instead of prioritising them, which is what I would do if I felt respected.

        Examples I would offer abt the DWI approach – a friend of mine never gets to go out with just her hubby. Ever. If that happens MIL calls the whole night asking when they’ll be back, and the inevitable discussion about why she wasn’t invited in the first place! Or my other friend who moved out of the in-laws’ place after great difficulty and now receives 7-8 phone calls a days from the MIL checking up on her lol. If she doesn’t answer she just gets missed calls one after the other!

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