From the day of her birth in Pakistan, Iram Aslam was betrothed to a cousin 17 days older. But to the young woman, who emigrated as a teenager to this Italian farm town on the Po River plain, the cousin felt like a brother. So on a visit to her homeland, she played for time, telling her aunts she wasn’t ready for marriage. “They did everything possible to make me marry him,″ said Aslam, now 29. She said she told them: ”‘I don’t want to marry him and please don’t ask me anymore.’” Her family, in both Italy and Pakistan, kept scheming to have her wed a man of their choice — and their caste. Aslam dismissed around 30 potential husbands. “In the end, I made everyone angry, and no one talks to me anymore,” she said of her relatives in Pakistan. In two murder trials this month, Italian prosecutors are seeking justice for Pakistani immigrant women allegedly killed because they refused marriages imposed by their parents. The cases highlight differences, often misconstrued as religion-based, between centuries-old immigrants’ cultural traditions and Western values prizing individualism. Also Read: Nearly 1 million asylum requests in the EU in 2022 “I liked another person, wanted another one,″ Aslam said of her own situation. “But they didn’t want it, because among us, love doesn’t exist.” Love is viewed “as a sin,” she added, her thick, wavy brown hair covered by a multicolored headscarf. She asked that her face not be fully shown for fear of further antagonizing Pakistani neighbors in Guastalla, a town of 15,000 where they are the dominant immigrant community. To escape marriage-obsessed relatives, Aslam went for a time to live in Germany. But there was no escape for 18-year-old Saman Abbas. Like Aslam, she emigrated as a teenager from Pakistan to an Italian farm town, Novellara, 11 kilometers (seven miles) from Guastalla. In what appears to be an identity card photo taken shortly after her arrival, Abbas’ face is framed by a black hijab, or headscarf. But the young woman quickly embraced Western ways, appearing in social media posts with her hair tumbling out from under a bright red headband. In one, she and her Pakistani boyfriend were shown kissing on a street in the regional capital, Bologna. According to Italian investigators, that kiss enraged Abbas’ parents, who wanted their daughter to marry a cousin in Pakistan. Also Read: Italy contributes €3mn to UNHCR for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh In November, her body was dug up in the ruins of a Novellara farmhouse. She had last been seen alive a few hundred yards away on April 30, 2021, in surveillance camera video as she walked with her parents on the watermelon farm where her father worked. A few days later, her parents caught a flight from Milan to Pakistan. Abbas had reportedly told her boyfriend she feared for her life, because she refused to be married to an older man in her homeland. An autopsy revealed a broken neck bone, possibly caused by strangulation. An uncle and a cousin were extradited from France, and another cousin from Spain. They are now on trial in Reggio Emilia, the provincial capital with jurisdiction over Novellara, accused of Abbas’ murder. Also indicted is her father, Shabbir Abbas, arrested in his village in eastern Punjab. The whereabouts of her mother, who is also charged, are unknown. A lawyer for her father, Akhtar Mahmood, told Italian state television that the young woman’s family is innocent. He disputed prosecutors’ allegations, contending that she had wanted to return with her family to Pakistan to flee Western ways. Asked about Italy’s request for Shabbir Abbas’ extradition, Pakistan’s ambassador to Italy, Ali Javed, told The Associated Press that the Pakistani government would “not hesitate” to do so. However, Italy has no extradition treaty with Pakistan. Javed blamed “individual ignorance″ for forced marriage, which is illegal in Pakistan. In 2019, Italy made coercing an Italian citizen or resident into marriage, even abroad, a crime covered under domestic violence laws. Late this month, police in Spain detained the father of two sisters who were allegedly murdered while visiting family in Pakistan. The women had reportedly refused to have their husbands come to Spain after being forced to marry their cousins. In the United Kingdom, home to Europe’s largest Pakistani community, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit cautioned that the problem of forced marriage isn’t “specific to one country, religion or culture” and said statistics don’t reflect “the full scale of the abuse” since forced marriage is a “hidden crime.” Under the Italian justice system, civil plaintiffs can attach lawsuits for damages to criminal trials, and two organizations representing Islamic communities in Italy are among those suing in the Abbas trial. Other plaintiffs include women’s advocacy organizations. Tiziana Dal Pra, whose group, Trama delle Terre, promotes intercultural relations, said that while violence surrounding forced marriage “gets interpreted as religious,” what’s really at play is “patriarchal control” of women’s bodies. In December, a court in the northern city of Brescia convicted and gave five-year prison sentences to three Pakistani immigrants — the parents and older brother of four girls — for beating them and keeping them out of school. According to court documents, the parents threatened their daughters that if they refused arranged marriages, they would end up like that “girl in Pakistan.” The court said that threat referred to 25-year-old Sana Cheema, who was slain when she returned from Italy to Pakistan in 2018, allegedly at her parents’ insistence. By her friends’ accounts, Cheema, who had taken Italian citizenship, loved her life in Brescia, where she worked out at a gym, went out for coffee with girlfriends and danced with them at a disco. She was proud of her job teaching at a driving school in the northern city. Brescia prosecutors are now trying Cheema’s father and brother in absentia on a novel charge: murder in violation of the political right to marry one’s own choice. In 2019, a court in Pakistan acquitted the two on murder charges, citing insufficient evidence. But Italy’s justice ministry ruled the Brescia trial could go forward since Pakistan and Italy have no agreement governing cases involving so-called judicial double jeopardy. Cheema’s family initially told Pakistani authorities that she died of a heart attack the day before she was supposed to fly back to Italy. Two friends testified in Brescia this month that Cheema told them her parents wanted her to marry a cousin in Pakistan. They also quoted from Facebook messages in which Cheema said her parents had confiscated her passport and phone in Pakistan. With the Italian Embassy closely following the case, Cheema’s body was exhumed. An autopsy indicated she was likely strangled. Prosecuting the case in Italy sends the message that “exercising the right of who you want to live with, above all, who you want to marry, is a political right” to be guaranteed “with utmost firmness,” Brescia Prosecutor General Guido Rispoli told the AP. At the edge of a field near the farmhouse where Saman Abbas’ body was found, mourners have left a stuffed toy squirrel and bunches of flowers at an improvised shrine. “It will continue to happen, I tell you, that’s how it is,″ Aslam said of violence linked to forced marriage. What progress has been made with trials like the ones in Reggio Emilia and Brescia isn’t enough, she added: “It’s like salt in flour.”
Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin announced on Facebook that he has married his “longtime love” in a small ceremony in Los Angeles. Aldrin, who made history along with Neil Armstrong as the first humans to set foot on the surface of the moon, said the wedding took place on Friday (January 20, 2023), which was his 93rd birthday. Read more: Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham dies aged 90 “I am pleased to announce that my longtime love and partner, Dr. Anca V Faur, and I have tied the knot. We were joined in holy matrimony in a small private ceremony in Los Angeles, and are as excited as eloping teenagers,” he wrote. The post received 53,000 Facebook “likes” and “loves” by Saturday and was accompanied by several photos of the newlyweds. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin made their historic walk on the lunar surface, fulfilling a vow by the late President John F. Kennedy to send a manned crew to the moon and safely return them to Earth. Michael Collins was the third member of the crew. Read More: Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations in Europe
Indonesia’s Parliament unanimously voted on Tuesday to ban sex outside of marriage and insulting the president and state institutions. Once in force, the bans will affect foreign visitors as well as citizens. They’re part of an overhaul of the country’s criminal code that has been in the works for years. The new code also expands an existing blasphemy law and keeps a five-year prison term for deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia’s six recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The code still needs approval from the president, and the government says it will not be fully implemented for several years. The amended code says sex outside marriage is punishable by a year in jail and cohabitation by six months, but adultery charges must be based on police reports lodged by a spouse, parents or children. Citizens could also face a 10-year prison term for associating with organizations that follow Marxist-Leninist ideology and a four-year sentence for spreading communism. Rights groups criticized some of the revisions as overly broad or vague and warned that adding them to the code could penalize normal activities and threaten freedom of expression and privacy rights. However, some advocates hailed the passage as a victory for the country’s LGBTQ community. After fierce deliberation, lawmakers eventually agreed to remove an article proposed by Islamic groups that would have made gay sex illegal. The revised code also preserves the death penalty, despite calls from the National Commission on Human Rights and other groups to abolish capital punishment. But the new code adds a 10-year probationary period to the death penalty. If the convict behaves well during this period, their sentence will be reduced to life imprisonment or 20 years’ imprisonment. The code maintains a previous ban on abortion, but updates it to add exceptions already provided in a 2004 Medical Practice Law, for women with life-threatening medical conditions and for rape, provided that the fetus is less than 12 weeks old. Under Indonesian regulations, legislation passed by Parliament becomes law after being signed by the president. But even without the president’s signature, it automatically takes effect after 30 days unless the president issues a regulation to cancel it. Read more: Indonesia approves legislation criminalizing sex outside marriage for citizens and foreigners President Joko Widodo is widely expected to sign the revised code in light of its extended approval process in Parliament. But the law is likely to gradually take effect over a period of up to three years, according to Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights Edward Hiariej. “A lot of implementing regulations must be worked out, so it’s impossible in one year,” he said. The code restores a ban on insulting a sitting president or vice president, state institutions and the national ideology. Insults to a sitting president must be reported by the president and can lead to up to three years in jail. Hiariej said the government provided “the strictest possible explanation that distinguishes between insults and criticism.” The current penal code is a legacy of Dutch colonial administration. Updates have languished for decades while legislators in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation debated how to adapt the code to its traditional cultures and norms. Indonesia proclaimed independence on Aug. 17, 1945. A previous revised code was poised for passage in 2019, but President Widodo urged lawmakers to delay a vote amid mounting public criticism that led to nationwide protests in which tens of thousands of people participated. Opponents said it contained articles that discriminated against minorities and that the legislative process lacked transparency. Widodo instructed Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly to obtain input from various groups as lawmakers debated the articles. A parliamentary taskforce finalized the bill in November and lawmakers unanimously approved it on Tuesday, in what Laoly praised as a “historic step.” “It turns out that it is not easy for us to break away from the colonial living legacy, even though this nation no longer wants to use colonial products,” Laoly said in a news conference. “Finalizing this process demonstrates that even 76 years after the Dutch Criminal Code was adopted as the Indonesian Criminal Code, it is never too late to produce laws on our own,” Laoly said. “The Criminal Code is a reflection of the civilization of a nation.” Read more: Keen to strengthen relations with Bangladesh: Indonesian Ambassador Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that laws penalizing criticism of public leaders are contrary to international law, and the fact that some forms of expression are considered insulting is not sufficient to justify restrictions or penalties. “The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide avenue for selective enforcement,” said Andreas Harsono, a senior Indonesia researcher at the group. Many hotels, including in tourism areas such as Bali and metropolitan Jakarta, will risk losing visitors, he added. “These laws let police extort bribes, let officials jail political foes, for instance, with the blasphemy law,” Harsono said.
Love truly goes beyond geographical boundaries. Yes, it was in the 2000s when Banya Baruah fell in love with her teenager-classmate Anirban Choudhury in Dhaka. Both were then students of Mastermind International School in the Bangladesh capital. Read: Gorbachev’s marriage, like his politics, broke the mold At the time, Banya's father Golap Baruah alias Anup Chetia, one of the founders of the outlawed Indian insurgency group United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), was incarcerated in a Bangladeshi jail. Chetia was, in fact, jailed in 1997 for sneaking into Bangladesh to escape Indian Army action against the separatist rebel group. He was also charged for possessing huge amounts of foreign currency. The Ulfa general secretary was, however, deported to India in 2015 to participate in peace talks with the Indian government. Seven years on, Banya and Anirban tied the knot in Jeraigaon, her father's native village near the eastern Indian state of Assam's Dibrugarh town on September 30. Another marriage followed by a grand reception is, however, slated for November 15 in the Australian city of Melbourne, where Anirban now works. Read: House passes same-sex marriage bill in retort to high court "I was not aware of their relationship since I was in jail then. But we have love and regard for people in Bangladesh for the kind of help they provided to us in our revolution," Chetia recently told an Indian media outlet. Chetia and a few youths founded Ulfa way back in 1979 and have since fought for a separate Assamese homeland.
Love knows no geographical boundaries, and the story of 27-year-old Bangladeshi man and 26-year-old Mauritian woman is the ideal example. Mustakin Fakir of Faridpur fell in love with Mauritian woman Sohela brought up in a Muslim family in Port Luis in 2020, when he was working in that African country. Two years on, the duo finally tied the knot. Mustakin, son of Khabir Fakir of Rashanagar village in Nagarkanda upazila, went to Mauritius some three years ago and joined a construction company as a mason. Read: From Brazil to Beelpar, carried by the power of love Sohela, who obtained her honours degree from a university in Mauritius, was then working at a private company. After two years of affair, Mustakin and Sohela sought permission from their respective families to marry the person they love. On June 4, Sohela came to Faridpur for the marriage. People from different parts of the district thronged Mustakin’s house to have a glimpse of the foreign bride. "Sohela will be here for a month, after which she will go back to Mauritius," Mustakin said.
It's official. Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor and actress Alia Bhatt are now husband and wife. The 39-year-old Bollywood hunk and 29-year-old actress tied the knot at an intimate ceremony at Ranbir's posh Mumbai home in the upscale Bandra locality on Thursday, after dating each other for over three years. Also read: Bollywood: Ranbir & Alia to tie the knot on April 14 After the wedding, the couple stepped out for a photo session where their fans and the paparazzi had been waiting since morning to get a glimpse of the two actors. Ranbir carried Alia back to the venue in his arms. Moments before the photo opportunity, Alia shared some pictures from the ceremony on her Instagram profile. "Today, surrounded by our family and friends, at home … in our favourite spot -- the balcony we've spent the last 5 years of our relationship -- we got married," she wrote on the social media platform. "With so much already behind us, we can't wait to build more memories together... memories that are full of love, laughter, comfortable silences, movie nights, silly fights, wine delights and Chinese bites. Thank you for all the love and light during this very momentous time in our lives." The son of actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, and the grandson of veteran actor-director Raj Kapoor, Ranbir made his acting debut with noted filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's tragic romance 'Saawariya' in 2007, a commercial failure. Also read: Ex-boyfriends Salman & Ranbir 'not invited' to Katrina's wedding Ranbir rose to prominence in 2009 with his performances in the coming-of-age film 'Wake Up Sid', romantic comedy 'Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani' and drama 'Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year'. One of the highest-paid actors of Bollywood, he also supports charities. Alia, on the other hand, is the daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actress Soni Razdan. She made her acting debut as a child in the 1999 thriller 'Sangharsh'. Her debut as an adult actor was with filmmaker Karan Johar's teen drama 'Student of the Year' in 2012. Alia won the Best Actress award in 2014 for playing a kidnapping victim in road drama 'Highway'. In addition to acting in films, Alia owns her signature line of clothing and handbags, and is the founder of ecological initiative CoExist.
Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor and his actress-girlfriend Alia Bhatt are all set to get married on April 14, a leading Indian entertainment news portal has reported. The 39-year-old Bollywood hunk and 29-year-old Alia, who have been dating each other for over three years now, will tie the knot at an intimate ceremony at Ranbir's house in Mumbai's posh Bandra locality, according to 'bollywoodhungama.com'. Also read: Ex-boyfriends Salman & Ranbir 'not invited' to Katrina's wedding The son of actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, and the grandson of veteran actor-director Raj Kapoor, Ranbir made his acting debut with noted filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's tragic romance 'Saawariya' in 2007, a commercial failure. Ranbir rose to prominence in 2009 with his performances in the coming-of-age film 'Wake Up Sid', romantic comedy 'Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani' and drama 'Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year'. One of the highest-paid actors of Bollywood, he also supports charities. Also read: Bollywood's Ranbir, Alia to get married this year: Lara Dutta Alia, on the other hand, is the daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actress Soni Razdan. She made her acting debut as a child in the 1999 thriller 'Sangharsh'. Her debut as an adult actor was with filmmaker Karan Johar's teen drama 'Student of the Year' in 2012. Alia won the Best Actress award in 2014 for playing a kidnapping victim in road drama 'Highway'. In addition to acting in films, Alia owns her signature line of clothing and handbags, and is the founder of ecological initiative CoExist.
Actress Tasnuva Tisha has announced she will be tying the knot on February 2 with her fiance Syed Asker On Saturday, the actress got engaged with her long time partner at her house in Banasree in presence of both the families. Tasnuva said they will officially register their marriage at first in presence of family members and some close people. Later in the same month they are planning to arrange the wedding ceremony and invite all. Also read: Musician Tanvir Tareq to be seen in Afzal Hossain's film “Maniker Lal Kakra” Syed Asker is owner of an event management firm. Tasnuva and Asker knew each other from 2020. Eventually their friendship grew into love and they decided to tie the knot, said Tasnuva. “I was anxious about Asker’s family’s reaction at first regarding the marriage but they were very positive about everything,” said Tasnuva. Also read: Pori Moni-Raaz announces pregnancy In 2014, actress Tasnuva Tisha married Farzanul Haque. After four years they got separated. Tasnuva and Farzanul are parents of a son and a daughter.
Actress Bidya Sinha Saha Mim tied the knot on Tuesday with banker Sony Poddar at a five-star hotel in the city. Many showbiz stars have greeted the newly-wed couple in photographs posted on social media. In the photograph, Mim was seen wearing a red Benarsi lehenga with red and white bangles , fully dressed as a bride with a nose ring and a silver tikli on her forehead. The groom wore a white and pink traditional ensemble. Read:Nirab-Sporshia to pair up in upcoming science fiction film ‘Jolkiron’ Mim got engaged on her birthday last year. Later, she shared the news with fans by posting photographs on Facebook. However, Mim did not reveal any plans for the marriage in that post. Two films of Mim are waiting to be released in the New Year. Among them, ‘Paran’ will be released on February 14. ‘Damal’ will be released in March. Besides, this actress is currently busy with the film ‘Antarjal’.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai has announced her marriage. The 24-year-old Pakistani human rights campaigner who was shot by the Taliban for daring to want an education posted images on Twitter of her celebration on Tuesday with Asser Malik and her family. “Today marks a precious day in my life,″ Yousafzai wrote. “Asser and I tied the knot to be partners for life. We celebrated a small nikkah ceremony at home in Birmingham with our families. Please send us your prayers. We are excited to walk together for the journey ahead.″ Also Read: 6 Venues to Host a Destination Wedding Near Dhaka Yousafzai was targeted by the Taliban for her relentless objections to the group’s regressive interpretation of Islam that limits girls’ access to education. She was shot while returning home from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in 2012. She traveled to the English city of Birmingham for medical treatment and her family eventually joined her. She went back to school as soon as she could but kept campaigning for the right to an education for others. Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel laureate when she shared the 2014 Peace Prize with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi for their work on behalf of children and education rights. She graduated from Oxford University in 2020. Also Read: Pakistani police arrests cleric over threats to kill Malala Malik is the general manager of high performance at the Pakistan Cricket Board. Yousafzai’s Twitter feed was flooded with expressions of goodwill for their marriage.