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In 1970, I received an invitation from people living in what was then a suburb of Karachi (Gizri). The host was a Baloch, and the wedding card did not have the name of any woman on it, not even that of the bride. It simply said that Mr. So and So was going to be married on Sunday, and the parents of the groom would be delighted if I spared some time and attended the festivities. Curious, I asked why the name of the bride was not mentioned on the card. "We're very conservative," said the host. "If some unrelated man knows and says the names of our daughters or wives, we consider it an insult." I heard later that people like him kill their daughters or their wives if some stranger utters their names. In fact, only the other day a Baloch shot another man when he found that his female cousin had exchanged messages with him (he first snatched the victim's cell phone and looked at the inbox to make sure that it was his cousin who was the sender of the messages).
In the lost decade (it's been 33 years since General Zia took over the country and imposed his version of Islam on us), people have changed a lot. The Memons (the ethnic group to which I belong) used to be very liberal once. Now, most of them are heavily bearded and their wives cover themselves from head to toe. And even they have stopped printing their daughters' names on wedding cards. Although when one reads the holy books, one finds that fourteen centuries ago, it was very common for men saying the names of unrelated women while talking to others.
I wonder what's the logic behind concealing the name of the bride. Is it because today's Muslim male is aroused on hearing the name of an unrelated female? Again, what about the Qazi, the mullah who performs the marriage ceremony? He has to say the names of the bride aloud so that all present can hear it. Why doesn't the ban on uttering the bride's name apply to him?

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