Extra-marital affairs of men and women are tearing apart the sacred institution of marriage. Background checks on prospective brides and grooms may help to some extent but a larger intervention is required to prevent this menace from consuming our society, Sheikh Mudasir Amin writes.
Sumaira Jan, a resident of Anantnag town in south Kashmir, had waited for this occasion all her life. Not even in her wildest dreams would have she imagined that her marriage would wreak havoc in her life. She had an arranged marriage, “After getting engaged, I would always think of a great life ahead with my husband. I had all the dreams of a blessed married life. But my marriage became my nightmare,” she said.
According to Sumaira, being educated, beautiful and from a well-off family, she got proposals from many boys since her 12th class but she never accepted. She thought that it would bring disrepute to her family which is more conservative in thought and practice.
In June 2015, she tied the nuptial knot to an engineer whose family had close ties with her family and the marriage was solemnised after three months of getting engaged. But, to her utter disappointment, the marriage didn’t last long and in June this year she got divorced from her husband.
“I will never marry again as I don’t believe men anymore. They are only meant to deceive you and disrespect you as it’s in their genes to betray and cheat,” she said, while filing a case in District Court Anantnag against the divorce letter sent by her husband. “I will teach him a lesson until the last drop of my blood. I strongly believe that my lawyer would try his best to provide me the justice I deserve. Before our engagement, we were asked to meet by our parents and I enquired if he’s having any affair which he outrightly denied and even he enquired from me if I am in a relationship which I declined too. I spoke to him very often on phone before marriage and went on a date many times. I had never thought that he would be having an affair with another girl whom he didn’t discuss with me or his parents”.
He husband’s extramarital affairs came to light just be a coincidence. In the initial days of marriage, she was very happy. One day, her husband left his phone unlocked in the room, “I thought of seeing the marriage pictures in his gallery where I found few photos of some girl I didn’t know. I doubted him and looked into his WhatsApp and Facebook where I found lewd messages from the same girl which he forgotten to delete,” she said.
When Sumaira confronted her husband and sought an explanation, he declined and reprimanded her not to speak on the issue. When she didn’t relent, he threatened her and one day got violent with her, “He told me that he didn’t want to marry me but his parents had forced him to do so. Then, he didn’t hesitate to talk to her in my presence which made my life a complete hell. I informed my parents about it who tried their best to convince him and even pressurised him but all in vain. Even his parents tried their best but were not able to do anything,” Sumaira said, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
“I had no option left but to leave the home of my in-laws that had become alien to me. Then only after a month, I received divorce letter from him which was already expected. Where shall I go now? Even sometimes I feel that I have become a burden on my parents. Is it that I am a girl and I am born to face the wrath,” she said, crying inconsolably.
The extramarital affairs are on increase these days in Kashmir, compared to the nineties. Not a day passes when we don’t hear of the same problems surfacing in our society. Just recently, the body of a young junior engineer in the government was recovered from Jhelum. It turned out that the victim, a resident of Srinagar, had ended her life after she reportedly came to know about her husband’s illicit relations with another woman.
But it is not only men but women also who get involved in extramarital affairs for one or the other reason. Mohammad Rafiq, 40, is also seen roaming in the District Court Complex Anantnag every other day. A case of 488 RPC was filed by her wife that is anguishing him. “We were a happy family and have two children but it seems as if an evil eye has destroyed our family. I am a government servant and my divorcee is an employee too. She had developed a relation with a man known to her and used to talk to him late night in my absence. One day I found many missed calls on her phone that created suspicion in me. When I enquired, she didn’t hesitate to tell that she no longer loves me and she wanted to marry some other guy without having a second thought about her children,” he said.
“When I divorced her, she was deceived by the man who didn’t marry her and told her that his parents would not allow this relationship. She came to me for a reunion which I declined. Now, she is dragging me every time to the court for one or the other reason”, he added. “Extramarital relationships have destroyed the very fabric of the institution of marriage”.
But the women in most cases are the worst hit and the cases of divorces are increasing day by day where the husband is seeking divorce from his wife for having developed extramarital affair with a woman who they then want to marry. Women are instigated to suicides, as happened with the Srinagar girl, and many who protest are either beaten to pulp or set on fire, sometimes by their in-laws. They have no other option left but to move to the court.
“It’s a positive sign that women are coming out and in a sense feel liberated from the bonds of our conservative society. They no longer bear the fury of their in-laws and speak their heart whenever something unbearable happens to them, especially in case of domestic violence”, said Bhat Iqbal Majeed, Assistant Professor at Jammu Central University’s Department of Social Work.
“We have had cases earlier and even now where the women were set on fire by their in laws so as to hide the extramarital affair of their son when the woman raised a voice against it. It’s because women didn’t report such kind of violence by their in-laws. They must report every hostility for their own security”, he added.
It’s also time for the society to introspect where the fault actually lies because the institution of marriage is sacred and the basis of our civilisation. We can’t allow the basics to get corrupted, lest the corruption consumes us all.