Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Love, Betrayal, and False Promises of Marriage - a Pukhtun man and a British woman

One of the greatest things about blogging is that you reach people from worlds completely unknown to you, and some of them reach out to you, share their stories with you, and touch and move you in ways you never imagined possible. Below is a story that a reader—let’s call her Melissa—shared with me, and I’m sharing it with her permission. Melissa is a British convert to Islam living in London, and the story she shares is one of her relationship with a Pashtun man who, despite having a child with her, lied to her about his real self and the fact that he was married “back home,” and whose family later denied any ties to Melissa’s daughter. She reflects on that experience and her feelings for the man, and she struggles, as can be seen in the email, to still respect and understand him, to see his situation from his perspective so that she can find peace for herself and her daughter. We exchanged a couple of more emails, going back and forth about our personal thoughts on Pashtunwali, Pashtuns, Pashtun men, love/relationships, and so on. I might share parts of those as well. For now, this should suffice.

I’ve changed her name and the names of those involved per her request and for privacy reasons. I’ve also removed parts of the email that I don’t think the readers need to know (blush, but I feel uneasy publicizing positive comments about myself and my blog J Thank you so much, though, Melissa!)

Before I share the story, though, let me say something else.

This is a very common story I hear - a Pukhtun man dating and having kids with a non-Pukhtun woman, promising marriage and the world to her, and then saying, "Sorry - I'm married back home" or "Sorry, I promised my mother on her death-bed that I'll marry the cousin she wanted me to marry. I can't marry you. But we can continue this relationship!" (This is so common!!! That's what the woman in this story below gets told as well by her Pukhtun lover.) Some Pukhtun men do it to Pukhtun women, too. Oh, for Pukhtun women, it's often: "Well, if you'd date ME, you've obviously dated other men before me and will prolly date more men in the future! So goodbye. Or we can just have a relationship with no promises of marriage." Or something that I, a Pukhtun woman blogger who's considered "public property" (what the hell?) get told: "I want an intellectual wife. My current wife is not educated or doesn't have time to have discussions with me because she's busy with kids and all." My response to them is then, "So educate her, damnit!" And they go, "What? Why? Then who'll cook for me and clean after me and serve me and take care of my kids and have my kids?"

It's wrong whether a Pukhtun woman or a non-Pukhtun is involved. So much for the whole "All Pukhtuns are loyal" crap. (I know, I know - it's never all, and this is generalizing, but I really don't care. I've seen and know of too many cases to believe Pukhtuns are any more loyal or better than other races out there.)

And before anyone else jumps to say, "Oh, please! It's not like only Pukhtun men cheat and sleep around or are unhappy with their wives," or "Stop generalizing!" I know it's not just Pukhtun men, and I know it's just as common among other ethnic groups. But that's not the point, and evading the conversation with "Stop generalizing" and "it's not just Pukhtuns" doesn't help anyone and changes the focus. In other words, what such comments are implying is: Let's ONLY talk about problems and things that only Pukhtuns do. ... why? And if there's no such thing as something that only Pukhtuns do, how do we talk about problems like the one below? That said, Pukhtuns are humans - that means nothing they do is so starkly unique that other humans don't share it with them or don't experience or indulge in as well.
The Story

First of all I'll introduce myself...I'm Melissa and reside in London. I am ethnically white and British :) I have a 19month old half Pashtun daughter...this is where the complexity begins...

[...] I got involved with a pashtun man almost 3 years ago now and believe me he was the worlds biggest liar in order to woo me. Anyhow shortly, unexpectedly I fell pregnant mashallah and he was very shocked however I was not in despair because after all he told me which included "my family will love you", "they will do you a big wedding". (These were lies I found out afterwards) I was certain this pashtun guy would always be there for me and my daughter.  In all fairness he accepted I was with his child and was supportive. We truly and deeply love each other. As time grew and my belly grew I was living with my sister because sadly I am an orphan my mother died when I was 9years old. I requested to of course marry because this is the islamic and halal thing to do plus we were in love also I wished to move in with him this is when bit by bit the truth was exposed....

Firstly he stated I couldnt move in with him because his parents would find out about me and the baby. He told me he would tell his parents at the "right time". I accepted and respected his decision. Note that I graduated from university at three months pregnant with a degree In Social Policy and Health studies. I gave everything up for Jamal and was willing to become a mother and housewife catering to his needs. Shortly after the first trimester of my pregnancy he announced he had to go back home. He returned 4 months later. In the meantime I was forced to move out find accommodations by myself and spent most nights crying asking Allah why did this guy destroy me this way. Upon his return, typical Jamal he came to the flat where I lived and reassured me he was going to be there. I forgave him quickly thinking of my unborn child. 

My daughter Arlene was born in June 2012. He came days later to meet his daughter. I looked with pride as he held her. For three months after her birth we were solid and I felt incredibly happy I thought giving up my family home and education was worth this life. After a while I suspected he was hiding things because he would never leave his phone out of sight. One day I took his phone and found numerous women on the practically naked and him skyping women in Brazil, Amsterdam and many more. I extracted his cousins number in dubai and confronted Jamal about these women and he apologised. I blamed myself maybe I was to occupied with the baby and he felt left out. Anyhow I made excuses for him because I was in love and blind. I forgave him and after this hiccup we were stronger than ever until my daughter reached 8months old. 

My daughter turned 8 months and I was in contact with his cousin, Nisar, who informed me that Jamal had a LOT to tell me. I confronted Jamal and to my shock he revealed he was married "back home". I broke down as you can imagine. I later discovered he was engaged at the tender age of 17 and got married whilst I was 5 months pregnant.  My entire world fell apart I later learnt he was 1 out of 9 children! In the beginning he told me he was the only child. 

I have lived with this heartache for a year now and to be honest he comes crying pleading his love for me and claims his marriage was forced and he had no choice but to go ahead with the arrangements. He told me about his family. His mother keeps all 6 wives with her back home in pakistan and their husband all go once a year or less to their wives and children. I was shocked to say the least how can these women be treated this way? This information caused a massive wedge obviously because 1. It sickened me the thought of him having another woman 2. The thought of his marrying a innocent young woman who left her family for him hurts me and she doesnt deserve this life. Jamal goes once a year to her as a duty. 

I could go on and on for days writing however I gave outlined the main points. After finding out about his wife Jamal then left me and my daughter for 3 months to disappear back home and then of course returned to the UK begging for me and my daughter. The pain and suffering I have endured from meeting a pashtun man is beyond explanation. His family wont even speak of our names. By the way- they found out about me and Arlene because I published a facebook for Jamal and showed every pashtun family member my daughters pictures underlying her as Jamal’s daughter. 

Her Thoughts on Pashtunwali

I disagree massively with the concept and practices of pushtunwali. It truly and evidently destroys lives. Forced marriage in itself is haram therefore being a pushtun and following the culture of the pashtuns destroys the individuals religious obligations. Furthermore, pashtuns accept their culture as Jamal once said to me "Melissa forced marriage is natural to us we just accept it". If this practice is normal to them and they just accept it then why come to european countrys and destroy innocent womens lives. All his cousins on his phone all married were oppressing european women and exchanging raunchy pictures. Pashtun women dont have a say they are silenced I cant begin to think how sad they are. i have the freedom to leave Jamal however his wife back home which islamically she is invalid as a wife to him doesnt have a right even to confront him about her feelings let alone leave him.

Im not generalising all pashtuns im sure there are a minority who follow their religion closely and truly love and respect their wives. This present day Jamal is back home and we are just left to survive. He has truly destroyed my independence, confidence and im left as a single mother. 

Thank you so much for reading I could have expanded on every point however I tried to get straight to the point. Jamal has throughout the 3 years done a lot more than what I stated.  Anyhow thanks again I wish you every success :) xx


  1. Exactly :) I agreed 100% ..
    Whether they pashtun men or pakistani men.....mostly marry foreigners to get settled in their countries and that's sooo Pathethic....

    Problem of Pashtun men is that they marry quite early...may be its some thing traditional or some thing else bla bla... I still couldn't understand?? But mostly their baba and bebe wanna them to get marry as early as possible and then to have loads of kidz and they never resist.... On reaching 30's where the europeon start thinking to get settle and have a kid ...our pashtun men have got 4 4 kidz... Some get settled with baba bebe decision but some never and live life as a compromise.. Secondly i am not agreed with the point that they are forced to marry .. I wonder how one can have 4 kidz in forced marriages?

    Such a poor society... Too many restrictions have made the life of people miserable..

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Kiran :) I appreciate your thoughts!

      My observations have been similar, of Pashtuns and many non-Pashtun groups of men around the world. It's just not fair what their wives are made to go through while they do what they do.

      LOL @ I wonder how one can have 4 kids in forced marriages.

      I can imagine how that happens, though. See, to *create* kids, you don't have to be in love with someone. We know that marital rape is extremely common (and not acknowledged as a reality because, what the hell, "How can a HUSBAND rape his own wife?!" But rape = forced sex, basically). And even when it's not rape (i.e., the wife gives consent), the man's job is fairly easy in creating the baby ... I know, biology stinks like that sometimes.

      It's also how lots of gay men are married and have kids, even if people know they are gay. Making babies for men is prolly the easiest thing on earth, and it's also insensitive if the female partner isn't enjoying or welcoming it.


Dare to opine :)

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