Precautionary Blood Measures

By Halima Khan

Suitable boy or even suitable girl is a rather funny concept that our society revolves peoples’ lives around. This rather bizarre situation is made rather amusing when the definition of suitable is explored. However who is doing all this defining is merely annoying. You and I whine about reaping fields of sorrow we sow ourselves for ourselves. Making life difficult and making survival competitive is what we seem to be occupying our mortality with. There is not anything more pressing to do, after all.

Is he educated? Is he employed? Is he independent? Is he ‘shareef’? What all these questions mean is irrelevant, just as irrelevant as most of these questions themselves are. We waste so much time and energy on irrelevance and un-necessities in matters of marriage that the important, the life depending important matters take a backseat.

 

These important matters I am referring to, if I may ask YOU what they possibly could and should be. The wedding date; the wedding jora designer appointment issues; or maybe the hall booking and invitations? Very important matters in all the wedding preparation that need careful monitoring; there is no doubt about it.

Marriage is an important institution socially and religiously. Marriage is one of those things which are deemed an eventuality. This eventuality decides the course of more than half of life span of almost everyone who life chance to grow to the ‘right’ age. This eventuality that is the ultimate ruling of one’s life can not be allowed to be played by social norms solely.

When two people tie the knot, say yes to spend every breathing moment with and for the other person they have a basic right to basic knowledge. We go to great pains to find out ‘everything’ about the boy’s past times and about the girl’s family’s dark secrets. In all this hide and seek and sick games of living up to the social expectations we ignore health.

There is much awareness being created about AIDS, Hepatitis through massively run campaigns aiming to control infectious diseases. Normally people try to avoid sharing food etc; washing hands regularly is the advertisement of the day. Health awareness is an issue everyone knows is important, and everyone knows life depends on it itself. However still we beat around the bush about the subject like avoiding it will make it redundant. When do we plan to wake up from this deep slumber, our ignorance is comforting only because we are fools.

Illiterate aside even the literate ignore all possibilities of the presence of any infectious disease in either their child or in the possible spouse of their child. Such reality can be life damaging.

Before two people wed they have a right to blood tests at least testing both involved of STDs, Thalassemia, HIV and other possible conditions which might affect one or the other partner or their children in any way. After these tests, whatever the results the choice should be theirs. Awareness of any possible physical shortcoming or any transmittable disease is as important as knowing what demons might his or her past hold.

In August earlier this year a bill was presented in our National Assembly to make pre-marriage blood tests compulsory. The bill was aiming to make any or every such blood test mandatory before wedding that tested any genetic or sexually transmitted diseases in both males and females. It is amusing the reason that bill hit the snag; lack of resources. They have enough time to ramble about whether it should be one-dish or two-dish at weddings but when it comes to matters of health, possibly life and death, resources need to be preserved for ‘better’ things.

This disturbing handling of the bill just goes to highlight how our priorities are messed up as a society, as a race actually.

A few days back flipping through lots of useless channels and a lot of babbling that I have no desire to make sense of, I came across a news headline that made me smile. It has been a while since that happened so consider that a breaking news in itself. Sindh Assembly brought to discussion table the same bill that our National Assembly dismissed so off handedly. The bill presented pointed out not only the importance of such a bill, but also there was mention of Government efforts to make dispensaries to execute this ruling. Furthermore, the opposition not only extended full support to this motion but also appreciated it, agreeing to the necessity of such a bill, especially in the times of rapidly spreading ill health.

This effort by the Sindh Assembly is commendable, the other regional assemblies should consider following suit soon. Then maybe National Assembly too could consider at least considering it more seriously.

Globally there are only a few countries that realize the importance of such a bill. In United States of America only there are only a handful of states that deem it necessary that there be a blood test of both involved before marriage.

Sindh stands out right there with the few educated enough to realize health as important enough to be considered and talked about in an assembly. Politically and economically and socially there might be a lot wrong with us but sometimes we do something that gives us reason to be proud of ourselves. This discussion on such a bill is such a moment; at least it is to me.

This ranting on government is due; however besides the government the people of this beloved country are to blame as well. This mirage of social chivalry that we keep blindfolding ourselves with needs to come down soon; everything is not a threat to masculinity. Health sector still lurking in dark ages has a lot to do with chauvinism which insists on linking everything to their uselessly irritant male ego. There are some things in life that are beyond male ego, that are beyond self. This is a concept hard to grasp when we are buried so deep in selfishness, but it is worth giving a shot.

If your possible wife asks you to give medical check up a shot that does not mean she is mocking your manhood and if your possible husband asks you to get a medical done it is not pointing fingers at your chastity. This is your possible spouse’s right; let him avail it in peace. There are already too many simple issues of life we have made taboos out of, spare the healthy ones please.

Picture this. Faiza Samee wedding jora custom made at the cost of no less than Rs.250, 000, wedding set of precious jewels from Damas at the cost of no less than Rs. 300, 000, wedding shoes and other accessories at a miscellaneous cost of Rs. 150, 000. The hall booking, hall arrangement including decorations, stage setting, event photography cost, photo shoot cost, the make up cost; there are a zillion other costs of the wedding day alone. In addition to the wedding day expenditures are the elaborate spending on the dowry preparation. The effort a wedding requires is besides all the money spent.

 What use are all the glitz and all the celebration if mere negligence on our behalf ends in life long health compromises.

1 Comment

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One response to “Precautionary Blood Measures

  1. Sadaf

    Speaking of messed up priorities… although you raise a very important point of the need for better healthcare, the priority should not be blood testing for potential spouses. What about the completely preventable diseases and illnesses that the common Pakistani people die from everyday? The things that can be prevented by better sanitation systems and access to BASIC healthcare? The country of Pakistan is not made up of just the middle/high class people from the major cities. The large section of the population that lives in the villages is also human and deserves these basic rights BEFORE blood tests are administered for a small CHANCE of a positive diagnostic. You mentioned doing background checks on future spouses because of societal pressures, wouldn’t a bill on blood testing be adding to these pressures? How about trying to move in the other direction by making some type of a connection and bond of trust with a fellow human being? The very human being you ARE going to spend the rest of your life with. And as for developed nations having these types of bills… well Rome was not built in a day. You have to solve these problems from the bottom up. Basic sanitation and healthcare for LIFE threatening issues for ALL Pakistanis, before using resources to test a small chance of disease that may or may not show up in the future, for a few “privileged” Pakistanis. Yes, relatively speaking, these people ARE considered privileged, because not everyone can afford to spend Rs. 250,000 on a wedding joda.