Aleena is 24 years old and currently doing her masters in Business and Administration, she moved to Sheffield for her masters but stayed at home for her Bachelors. The reason she stayed at home was because she was not allowed to move away and the university close by did her course. The reason she moved for her masters was because the course was better in Sheffield. Aleena loves her independence, but dreads the thought of having to move back home after she has graduated. She is just one of many young Pakistani men and women who have to face this, education is an excuse for independence but after they must be married to move out of their family home, no matter their age. “I don’t want to be living with my parents till I am thirty, I’d rather get married and move out tomorrow than stay with my mum and dad for that long, now especially because I lived out for my masters its going to be so difficult”- Aleena 24
Unfortunately this is not the only hurdle that Aleena will have to face in the next few years, with having to move back home after her masters, she must also find a husband in order to move out. But she is getting to ‘the age’ where some parts of Pakistani culture say she will be too old to be married soon. This to not be mistaken with religious beliefs of Islam, this is culturally formed. According to experts on Ethnic and Racial studies by Sir Micheal Barber “Some young British Pakistanis appear to have distanced themselves from Pakistan and Pakistani heritage and moved on to identify more through their faith: as Muslims”. People like Aleena face pressure from her cultural heritage but also the feeling of wanting to immerse herself into Westernised culture. A big life changing situation is upcoming for Aleena as she gets closer to 25.
After interviewing a group of different Pakistani men and women, the theme of age relating to marriage was very common. Like Aleena many people said that there was an age they wanted to be married at or hope to, if not they will be too old. Many want to find their soulmate themselves through love marriage. Love marriage is someone you pick yourself, and arranged marriage is when your family pick someone for you, some young Pakistanis said if they didn’t find someone by a certain age they would result in this. “I think arranged marriage can work out but it’s quite unlikely, however If I can’t find anyone then I will consider an arranged marriage” - Kashif -19. Within the westernised culture Pakistani men and women may find the concept of arranged marriage difficult because they are immersed in a completely different culture where it does not happen, changing their opinion on the concept. “ I would go for love marriage, even if my parents choose someone for me I still wouldn’t marry them, If I don’t find anyone I will just wait” Hamza 21
However to some Pakistanis an arranged marriage feels safer and more comfortable for them as they are likely to marry a family friend that they have known their whole life, this may also be dependent on whether they are British Pakistani, or just in the UK to study. The more British Pakistanis I talked to the more immersed they were in Westernised culture. “At this point in my life I am happy with my parents, I am not thinking about my marriage anymore but if that’s what they want then I will do that”- BakhatAfza - 26.
The age of 25 for many Pakistani women is the age they believe is their ‘expiration date’ the count down to the time after where they are less likely to get married, for men it is older into their 30s . “When a girl gets older trying to find a significant other becomes less and less, a girls who’s 18 can get married to a guy that’s 22, 28 or even 30, but is the girl is over 25 it becomes less likely” Abdul 21. Although this has been a theme amongst my interviewee’s some of them this is not the case, their families are more accepting and not pressurising them to get married “ I do know families that are really not bothered about who their kids marry, even though their from the same place where my grandparents come from” Aliyyah - 19. According to studies from Arshia U. Zaidi and Muhammad S huraydi “There has been a gradual transition from the traditional pattern of mate selection towards a more western oriented approach of ones own choice but with the consent from parents”
It is becoming apparent that even though the pressure is still there from the Pakistani community, slowly but surely opinions are changing and families are more open to love marriages, they are more bothered about their children getting an education than getting married. Education is the excuse to not be married, and to get independence before you get married, just like Aleena. The freedom is given to these young Pakistanis however, they are still are ingrained with the concept that for independence as a male of female means you must be married and living with someone for your adult life, you cannot live alone. The idea of a soulmate is strongly advertised for a ‘safer future’’. “My mum would never be convinced into letting me move out without being married, Moving away for education is an excuse” Aleena 24. The underlying pressure from the Pakistani culture is that parents want their son and daughters to find a companion and to be happy, many of these Pakistani men and women feel like they owe their parents and that’s why they want the right person. A few interviewees said they must show their responsibility and independence to get an acceptance “I will tell my parents about a girl I like when I have a job/ part time placement then it shows I am responsible, my parents then think I’m independent, put it on an independent perspective and then will see that I am more mature” Abdul 21.
Leading on from research it has shown that the religious beliefs within Islam and the cultural heritage in Pakistan oppose with the opinions on marriage, somehow they have managed to separate which causes allot of confusion for young Pakistanis. “Some parents are still no to love marriage because they think it is in religion, they have this mindset because they haven’t read up on Islam” Abdul 21. Since Pakistan became independent on the 14th of August 1947, education has been the focus, which is why Pakistani families are slowly but surely learning more about Islam through education and being open to love marriages. Back in the early 40s more Pakistanis were illiterate than educated. But now more generations are becoming educated and open to the outside world, immersing in the on going modernising world. Education has risen dramatically since the independence of Pakistan in 1947, research from Sir Micheal Barber states “West Pakistan in 1947 had about 35 million people, but less than a million children were in school, and in 2016 there were almost 19 million children in primary schools, over 8 million were girls. Almost 80 times as many girls were attending school as in 1947”. The millennial generation of Pakistanis are more focused on their education and learning about the westernised world outside of Pakistan, it is much more rural places of Pakistan that have not immersed or changed into modern, westernised culture, research from Arshia U. Zaidi and Muhammad S huraydi states“Arranged marriages by parents are slightly higher among the rural areas, and amongst the lower educated class”.
With Pakistanis moving or studying in the UK and Pakistans increase in education, slowly but surely cultural beliefs are changing. The millennial generation are slowly changing a widespread culture and opening it up to more modernised and westernised beliefs, as well as following Islam. According to studies by Arshia U. Zaidi and Muhammad S huraydi “There has been a gradual transition from the traditional pattern of mate selection towards a more western oriented approach of ones own choice but with the consent from parents”. Young Pakistanis are breaking cultural beliefs and following their religion, plummeting themselves in the diverse culture of the western world. “I think people are more relaxed now, they are thinking differently, people are getting more education, they are thinking and realising we cannot just force our children to get marry someone” BakhatAfza - 26 “I make a joke about it because really I am not too bothered, when I find someone I find someone, that’s it” Aleena- 24.
In 2019 there are so many changes taking place, culture is so diverse in the UK, and The culture surrounding marriage for young Pakistanis is a great example of not only an interchangeable and immersive diverse society, but also understanding the issues that Pakistanis face. Identifying with cultural roots, celebrating them but also opening ideas up to the modern society that we are living today. Each generation will face something new, but even though allot of young Pakistanis feel a tug between cultures, more families and people are learning to open themselves up to a world of cultural and diverse living in a constant modernising civilisation.