Marriage is unavoidable for most women of reproductive age in rural Balochistan. The twenty women from four villages informing this ethnographic sociological study that examines contemporary perspectives and understanding of the Balochi marriage explain why they think that this social institution with its underpinning norms and values has a cohesive function that unites and gives strength to the tribal society, and the ‘female folk’. Their first-person accounts offer a counter-narrative to the dominant discourse of traditional marriage arrangements that, more often than not, highlights the interference of cultural traditions with women’s desire of self-affirmation and self-fulfillment. We are not victims of the socio-cultural norms that structure and organize our daily life, they seem to suggest. These women may well be poor, illiterate, and out of public view, as it has been remarked by international observers, yet, their renderings open up an alternative line of argument to discuss woman empowerment in this remote and conflict-ridden area of South Asia. From a female point of vantage, we elucidate the renewal of this traditional institution that is at the heart of Balochi life. The views assembled, analyzed and presented in this essay prompt us to argue to give greater support to efforts in multi-jurisdictional practices that seek balancing out conflict of laws arising.

Shumaila Umer