A Prince Who Destroyed My Life is
an academic study of the effects of child marriage on women in Pakistan, but it
is also the story of a young girl trapped by the rigid cultural practices of
her society. Discussion questions are posed at the end of relevant chapters and
the work concludes by investigating female abortion and infanticide and,
following that, sexuality and sexual orientation within contemporary Pakistani
society. The reader is introduced to Paghonda, a beautiful village girl, as she
is married off at thirteen to a thirty-five-year-old engineer. Ostensibly the
marriage is her salvation for, had she become the victim of the man who had
been stalking her on her way home from school, Paghonda’s family elders would
have killed her to save their honour.
Though her husband is at heart a kind man, Paghonda’s
failure to bear him a son damns her in the eyes of her society. First
bewilderment, then loneliness and depression lead to hopelessness and all its
tragic consequences. Because it is, in essence, the bewilderment of a child, Paghonda’s
ultimate destruction is especially poignant. Her cousin Brekhna is spared this
fate, and takes up the campaign of the rights of women and people whose
sexuality and sexual orientation differ from mainstream Pakistanis.
This is the fourth book I have read about women in
Pakistan and, while considering a country so different from my own, I often
find myself asking ‘where is the road forward for women in Pakistan, in Yemen,
in the Congo, in Afghanistan’?
One road might be to make this book a required reading
for men. Easily done. It was engaging and readable.
In : Book Reviews