Online dating in Pakistan

Pakistan is a conservative Muslim majority nation with a population of approximately 200 million, out of which almost 49% are those who identify themselves as women, most of whom have lived their entire life behind barriers fabricated by their families in attempts of protecting their honour and reputation. Concepts such as protection and honour impede women’s mobility in society - they not only curtailed their ability to occupy the spaces outside the confines of the home, but also the avenues to interact with others, evident by the fact that most public spaces are largely occupied by men. This left women and men with bleak prospects to find like-minded people who are not their immediate or distant relatives. The protection of honour for women seeps into online spaces where they are discouraged from having their own social media accounts. These restrictions on their digital lives result in women having anonymous accounts or they end up restricting and self-censoring themselves online.

The rise of the internet in the form of chat rooms and social media websites like Orkut, MySpace, Yahoo Chat and MSN in the early 2000s revolutionised the dating culture in Pakistan and beyond. But women were still expected to keep away from these spaces because of another layer of so-called security that they were forced to incorporate in their actions and communications, and these have eventually been internalised over the years. Security that demands them to not trust anyone.

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