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The doctor brides

Updated Jul 26, 2013 03:45pm


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It used to be that she only needed to be fair, from a good family, charming, and pliable. Now it seems the perfect bride for the darling son of this or that family – must also be a doctor. Gone are the days when too much education was a boon on the backs of the bride-to-be, a consternation that suggested the chance for possible rebellion; the desire to overturn age old traditions. Today, the doctor bride signifies status, not simply the cache of brains in addition to beauty, but rather of the incredible largesse of having the option to work, to make lots of money, and then to forego it all in the path of devoted wifehood and motherhood. In this misogynistic equation a man who can boss a woman around is quite manly, but a man who bosses a doctor around is the manliest.

The doctor brides of Pakistan, bred at medical colleges all over the country, move on to become wives and mothers but give up being doctors. The figures tell the story an Associated Press report published a few months ago asserts that 80-85 per cent of Pakistan’s medical students are women. At Dow Medical College in Karachi, the ratio of female to male students stands at 70 per cent female and 30 per cent male. All these hopeful numbers would be considered indicators of the feminisation of Pakistani medicine and the proliferation of female doctors around the country. Indeed much approbation would be in order for the Pakistan Supreme Court decision that abolished the quota that limited women to only 20 per cent of the seats at medical schools.

All of it could have been were it not for another set of numbers. While no figures are officially kept in Pakistan of the numbers of doctors that are lost to the bridal belt of wife and motherhood, some inkling of the losses can be found in the following. Of 132,988 practicing doctors registered with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, 58, 789 are women. Of 28, 686 specialist physicians in the country, a paltry 7, 524 are women. The percentage of female medical students may be high enough, but the bridal market places more urgent demands, promises more stability and social acceptance than the job market.

It is a conundrum of many dimensions and central to it is the question of blame. Does the fault lie with the individual student, who has adequate commitment to the demanding academics of medical education while single, but falters in juggling them when the demands of in-laws and husbands and children are added to the mix? Is it the fault of the Pakistani middle-class culture that has placed value on professional education for girls, but only as an accouterment, a sort of degree dowry whose value does not lie in its actual use? Or indeed, can this waste be pinned to the deeper misogyny in the working world of a patriarchal nation; that begrudgingly tolerates these girls in the halls of learning but is too hostile to allow them to practice without harassment and intimidation in hospitals? Furthermore, wouldn’t reinstating quotas that limit female seats in public medical schools set Pakistani women doctors even farther back than they are today?

These questions are important because they have resource implications. In a poor country, where healthcare is inaccessible to millions, female students, especially those that attend public universities take up already meager resources. When these girls do not practice they take away income generating opportunities from others who would utilise them. On another scale, the lost doctors represent an expenditure on healthcare that produces a net loss in that the benefits of the education are never dispersed into the general population. The problems are not Pakistan’s alone. In post-apartheid South Africa, a country where Indian Muslims present a significant demographic, rumors have been circulating about the application of unofficial quotas that reject applications from female Indian Muslim students because too many of them fail to practice medicine after marriage and motherhood. While administrators of medical schools insist that they do not exist, the issue remains a contentious one even in that country.

In Pakistan, the solution may ultimately rest on what Pakistanis consider the purpose of medical education to be. In an article I wrote last week, I argued that the decrease in international demand for Pakistani doctors and the absence of local labor market able to absorb them, suggests that Pakistan does not need to be producing more doctors. The article was premised on the assumption that in Pakistan, the choice of becoming a doctor is as much, if not more motivated by aspirations to middle and upper middle class status; than to actually provide healthcare. If this is not the case, then all medical students in the country male or female should welcome the implementation of programs that require two years of obligatory service in underserved areas of Pakistan as part of completing a medical degree anywhere in the country. The failure to complete the two years would incur a fine payable by the student or their guardian and prevent the student from graduating.

The increased numbers of girls in Pakistan’s medical schools suggests that ideas do change, if only partially, and that inroads can be made. There was of course a time when the co-educational set up of medical colleges and the limiting 20 per cent quota kept women away. The elimination of the quota created enough of a push from intelligent girls to convince their families that they be allowed to attend despite the presence of male students. While post-feminist interpretations of women’s choice may insist that Pakistan’s female medical students should have the option of saying “no” to a medical career if they wish to, such arguments are simply not valid in a country with such limited resources and a society always looking for excuses to keep women out of the workplace. In this sense, the imposition of a service requirement may well be the catalyst needed for the next step in the transformation and a good way to insure that the doctor bride continues to be a doctor long after she is a bride.


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Rafia Zakaria is an attorney and human rights activist. She is a columnist for DAWN Pakistan and a regular contributor for Al Jazeera America, Dissent, Guernica and many other publications.

She is the author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan (Beacon Press 2015). She tweets @rafiazakaria

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (157) Closed

arshd Jul 26, 2013 04:01pm

is it dawn newspaper or i am reading a desi urdu digest?

Shah Jul 26, 2013 04:50pm

Somehow the author overlooked one key detail. Doctor brides are not so much sought after by the prospective husbands themselves as much as they are hunted down by the mothers-in-law to be. "Meri bahu daaktar hai", is the proud claim apparently most "women" wish to be able to make out loud in the company of other women.

Mystic Jul 26, 2013 04:53pm

Someone please find a rishta for her... she's only writing about brides and stuff!

Agha Ata Jul 26, 2013 05:29pm

Everything should be done on merit, and certainly not on gender prejudices! Science of medicine has nothing to do with the gender of the doctor.

Pakman Jul 26, 2013 05:56pm

Its amazing how i was having the same conversation with my sister today who happens to be a doctor herself, she followed the norms of our society and family and got married to be sent off to Australia to be a happily wedded wife. I listen to her complaining about how she had to miss her house job for the sake of being with her husband who does not share the same enthusiasm of her doing a house job or any other job for that matter, whats the point of studying 5-6 years when all you have to do is bow down in submission to the one who cannot be questioned, your husband. I saw her tears flow when she mentions her in laws repeated suggestions of her returning back to pakistan to serve them at the best of her abilities (cooking and cleaning). Is this what they intended to do when they sent out the proposal, to limit an intelligent, ambitious young doctor to cleaning chores? Ironically i could not wipe those tearsoff neither could i change the reality, i wish things change in Pakistan and the role of female doctors is not limited to running households but running hospitals for a better and successfull Pakistan.

Munnazir Jul 26, 2013 05:57pm

Well this discussion should be started now on society & government level too . Apart from medical colleges , in other universities too 65 to 70% of the students are female . This is great to see girls in Pakistan coming forward but the real question is what will happen if they keep on sitting in homes waiting to be get married ? Also in current situation of Pakistan job opportunities are very less , what if boys start going backward ? in our society girls parents looks for a boy who has decent job/career , but i fear in coming 5 years parent will find it very very hard to find a decent boy with a decent career for their intelligent/highly educated daughter . Social structure will imbalance . In a male dominated society like Pakistan what this issue will result in ?

Irfan Butt Jul 26, 2013 06:24pm

Based on this analysis, and maintaining a slight sense of balance between fairness and reality, how about setting the law that requires 50% of medical seats for each gender? Ofcourse the law has to be created first, otherwise Supreme Court will knock down this quota too.

Masood Jul 26, 2013 07:01pm

I know FIVE families in States, where 2 of the moms are graduate of DMC and 3 are from JPGMC. They were all first-division students from good colleges in Karachi during their inter-science years. Got in the medical schools of their choice, graduated, did their obligatory house jobs, got married. Some migrated to US with their husbands others came here via Saudi, Dubai, Qatar. They have not practiced a single day. 4 of them have not even taken the ECFMG. Now they are all in their late 40's, too much occupied with their kids and homes. Can you imagine the loss to a poor country like Pakistan for putting these 5 non-producing doctors through the medical-school ? Plus they relieved 5 prospective candidates from their livelihood.

Shahid Jul 26, 2013 07:07pm

Few comments.

U suggest doctors to serve in under-served areas while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are no facilities at such areas. A skilled professional like a doctor needs a basic set up to work. He needs equipment, diagnostic procedures, reliable tests and above all, at least provision of safe, cheap and available medications.

As for lady doctors, admission to medical education should be on merit. After graduation, if somebody decides not to pursue his/her field, its his/her own sweet choice and he/she has earned that choice.

Desire for doctor brides stems, at least partly, from fact that many families need a readily available medical help right at home. In a country where government sector has collapsed and private medical care is too expensive, is it strange that people desire so? Many people self medicate: why not have a handy prescription? So lady doctors do contribute to families they merge in even if they don''t practice officially.

farooq Jul 26, 2013 07:16pm

Requiring two years of obligatory service in underserved areas of Pakistan or paying back the public subsidies used for attaining that degree sounds like a good idea if Dr fails to practice medicine.

sameera Jul 26, 2013 07:46pm

And the men serve this country? They all fly to UK,USA , Australia, or the Middle East. Either way nobody wants to serve the country - man or woman, doctor or not. I could pretty much say this for all fields.

maryam Jul 26, 2013 07:47pm

"imposition" of a service requirement? where are we headed? in the direction of communism?

it is one thing, to sit aside, observe & write these articles. Its another to walk the walk. There is a lot of truth in this article, majority of the women that were with me in med school got married before or after graduation & dropped out. but there were many who also did persevere, took their post graduate or foreign medical exams and continued to train as specialists. Even that I see as a major success. I always come across women who did train but after marriage/children were not able to pursue their studies, & i always hear regret in their voice. Its not by choice. its lack of a supportive system to have them continue to focus on their careers.

I don`t agree with the article. You are sitting on the other side of the fence, trying to design fine and penalties which should be imposed when you have no clue as to what it takes to become a medical professional, and more so to continue to persevere with ongoing training, hours if not years of studies & training & never ending call nights. Personally, I do not believe in an authoritarian approach ever, we should have the freedom to make our choices.

saad Jul 26, 2013 07:48pm

First, the author should be aware that using big, showy words doesn't make an argument strong. In fact, it makes it uninteresting. be reader-friendly, people! Not everyone's a faarigh Ph.D.

Second, the gender-biased quota is a need of time presently in our country, considering the ridiculously low number of doctor sahaabs instead of saahibas. After all, hardly any of the males would prefer a lady doctor examining their prostates!

Mrs. Qasim Jul 26, 2013 08:16pm

@arshd: its a blog actually!

Farhat Farhan Jul 26, 2013 08:17pm

Actual thing is that it depends on the individual's personal opinion what they want to do,is it something they really want to take as profession or it would be future concerned pepole who are going to decide that for them. In this regard our women need awreness as well as confidence to follow their aim.

aysha Jul 26, 2013 08:25pm

If there are 70% females and 30% males in medical institutes and universities, what does it mean? does it mean, girls, in general, are more intelligent and smarter than boys?

aysha Jul 26, 2013 08:31pm

@Pakman: Pakman, As u have mentioned in your comments:

"whats the point of studying 5-6 years when all you have to do is bow down in submission to the one who cannot be questioned, your husband"

Have u ever thought why does this happen ONLY to muslim girls???

M aslam Jul 26, 2013 08:42pm

@Pakman: She achieved to be a wife of rich Austraian immigrant by studying 5-6 years. Is it not a good achievement?

sarah Jul 26, 2013 08:48pm

the writer has raised a few very valid points. I highly appreciate her suggestion of making a medical student practice for two years in suburbs or rural areas before being eligible for a graduate degree. However she mixed up three major issue in one signle plate. if wud have been more appropriate had she focussed on only one.. As far as quota system for girls and boys are concerned, I want the society to look both ways. Girls are admitted easily in medical colleges but the inclusion criterion is not merely intelligence. The entry test has only 40 % to do in the addmission process. the rest of the marks are scored by RATTA in inter and matric exam. It can not be imagined in the international comunity to enrol a candidtae in medicine degree without an interview! the assesment criterion is not upto the mark. Second, quota should be reintroduce in all medical and general universities across Pakistan. though it should be 50 - 50 %. that way the male counter parts can also reach a certain level so that the girls with professional degrees dont get to get married with a nominal educated guy. Third, the Brides-to-be have to change their stereotypical mentality of getting committed as soon as they pass out from college. Their parents invest their time, effort and finance on them, certainly they love to see them successfull. This issue is no moe a drawing room issue now. It should be highlighted at every level. Its time to shift the balance of our society back to normal. every educated girl for an educated boy. without changing the addmission criterion of the universities nothing much could be done. its not that boys are not intelligent, its the absurd assesment procedure thats keeping them behind!!

Desi Jul 26, 2013 09:05pm

@Shah: You said it in 4 words what author did not say in 4 pages "Meri bahu daaktar hai". Ms. Rafia Zakaria, you missed the point. Men don't brag in their circles that they have a doctor wife, it's the mother-in-law (Another woman). Cut the poor man of middle class some slack, will ya?

shanon Jul 26, 2013 09:13pm

@Agha Ata: I agree with you and that's how it should be on a global level but for a country like Pakistan that has a sever shortage of doctors, and more so, female doctors it is a slightly unjust view. Its not that women are unqualified to be part of the work force, in fact many women are very well qualified, they do not enter the work force citing societal and family pressure. Until the society's view can be changed, quotas should be placed.

Anon Jul 26, 2013 09:15pm

Good article. There is very little benefit to society, husband and family of having a bride who is a non-working doctor. If one does not intend to work in future life, one should study some other subject (cooking, or just pursue some interest that one has) which might also come in handy as a housewife. Spending 5 years of life just to be called doctor is completely wasteful.

The idea that there should be some compulsory service that doctors should be required to perform would be a good solution which will have multiple benefits for Pakistan: 1) It will encourage more women to participate in labor force by giving them an extra nudge. 2) It will discourage people who go to medical school just for the title.

It would be interesting to find out what proportion of doctors don't work after graduating (for both genders) and how many leave the country.

sikander abbas Jul 26, 2013 09:19pm

@arshd: Dawn is a desi newspaper so please digest that.........

faiman Jul 26, 2013 09:26pm

Being a doctor myself I agree with the author's opinion. In our society mother-in-laws want a "doctor bahu" who can do all the chores without complaining and doesn't dare ask to work beyond her housejob. The husband may not openly oppose the idea of work he may simply refuse to assist when she juggles work, house and motherhood all alone. I wish men could change their attitude or simply say "no" to their mum for a doc and settle for those girls who are waiting to be married(and happily be housewives). But with the changes in our society men find it hard to resist the charms of flaunting a Doctor wife among friends and colleagues.

imraN Jul 26, 2013 09:42pm

She is harping about things she has no idea about. She is forgetting this is one of our best exports. Doctors are cheap to make, Reproduce easily and pump enormous amounts of money in to the economy of Pakistan.

Shehla Jul 26, 2013 09:52pm irritates me to no end when the onus of health care issues is put on doctors, male or female. we are healers, we get paid more and hence have to be somewhat more sacrificial! In the complex mess that is Pakistan , everyone has an equal responsibility to do their job and their education : engineers , teachers ,politicians and yes doctors. Yes It's a shame to waste a med school education but why is that any worse than 'wasting' any degree? .girls change their minds because they were too young to know their minds in the first place! they have no role models in the fields of nursing, botany , therapy etc..this is a reflection of our unimaginative high school education that shepherds teenagers into premed or 'bust' choices at the age of 14 .there is this misplaced perception of nobility in medicine pervasive in our society that forces women out of fields in nursing,teaching etc . Frankly, this service requirement is the most patronizing and misguided solution I have ever heard ! only when our unimaginative high school system and our perception of women in the workforce changes , will we see changes in the dynamics of the female workforce.

Hamdard Khan Jul 26, 2013 09:55pm

What a waste of tax payers money and others who wish be doctors and practice the profession.. It is a sick society, from top to bottom. Their should be iron clad law. Govt. supported medical college degree holder doctor must serve the public for 5 years and stay in the medical profession for 5 more years. Otherwise for not serving the public ..should serve in the jail and for the later 5 years must pay the entire amount to the state bank or end up selling body organs to pay it back.... Why tax payers have to foot the bill while you graduate and head out to a foreigner country UK USA Ireland etc. If all the Pakistani doctors called from UK .. their health system collapse over night. so much for the medical profession and for Pakistan.. Messed up country ... with selfish souls..

Hamdard Khan Jul 26, 2013 10:00pm

@Shah: Oh Yah! I got a trophy "doctorani" see! I got it.

TKhan Jul 26, 2013 10:02pm

Patient: Doc, I have the disease that I forget things. Doc. While reviewing patient's chart asked, how long do you have this disease? Patient: Looked at the Doc surprisingly and said, What disease? Doc. OK No problem, and gave him a prescription with the advice to take the prescribed medicine.

Patient came back after couple of days and informed the Doctor that he couldn't find the medicine anywhere in the market.

Doctor looked at the prescription and said; Oh Shocks, this is only my signatures; I forgot to write the medicine! :)

Ali S Jul 26, 2013 10:13pm

@Agha Ata:

You're right, but sadly the only merit a female medical student in Pakistan is considered worthy of is her potential as a wife. We can't ignore ground realities.

Ali S Jul 26, 2013 10:24pm


This may sound insensitive but as a 3rd year male MBBS student, I don't feel any sympathy for your sister. Poor her, living comfortably in Australia with everything provided for her by her husband, right? If she really was ambitious about pursuing medicine as a career, she should have had the guts to say no to her parents instead of wasting 5 years and a MBBS seat that someone else could have made a living out of.

Malik Jul 26, 2013 10:41pm

" a man who can boss around a doc is more manlies" One can only wonder how you got to that conclusion?

Its seems you are trying to say that doctors shouldn't get married and become mother. Career and family are two different thing, and both have their own importance, but the priority should be given to family, A house well looked after and children well bred are the best asset women can provide a Nation. the good thing about doctors are that they are able to join back into services, even after 5 year break, and most do.

Malik Jul 26, 2013 10:43pm

@Shah: True, very true. with the difficult schedules and the hospital smell, its gone down. but still preferred over arts and liberal arts, if at all guys are looking into education.

Malik Jul 26, 2013 10:44pm

@arshd: I agere, creating issues of non-issues.

Saad Mateen Ahmed Jul 26, 2013 10:55pm

Indeed this is what is happening these days....a "Doctor Baho" is highly sought after and girls are forced to become Doctors to get a good decent "Rsihta"....i thought about this few weeks back and i am of the view that Government should ask all female medical students to sign a contract of 10-15 years to work after graduation and if they fail to do so, they must pay back the subsidized fee according to what private medical colleges are charging.

Jamil Jul 26, 2013 11:06pm

Why government is producing doctors and making new medical schools despite that private sector is making enough of them. I believe it is only serving political interests. We need more nurses and off course doctors who are assimilated in a formal system of health care within country. Doctors graduating from government system and going abroad are a huge burden to our national exchequer,, so are most female doctors.

Ahmed Jul 26, 2013 11:10pm

I can totally understand where you're coming from, but personally I would not be comfortable with sending my wife out to work, knowing the situation in Pakistan. Were anyone to harass or tease her, my blood would boil, inciting a murderous rage.

However, in a civilised Muslim country (one that actually followed the practices) I would be comfortable with my wife going out and working, since then people would have honor and would give women the respect they deserve. But until then, I think the doctor sahiba will have to do a good job raising the kids well. (And no i don't believe a woman is a slave made for doing household chores)

saad Jul 26, 2013 11:27pm

@Agha Ata: everything should be on merit but i think so that you dont know the fact that government spends about 30 to 40 lakh in government medical colleges to make a doctor ..This money comes from the taxes of the nation . If after becoming doctor anyone is leaving his or her profession he is infact wasting the money of this poor nation . so the purpose of becoming doctors is to serve the not to plunder the money.if eventually all these girls want to become doctors just for martial purpose they must get admission to private medical colleges and spend 40 to 50 lakh rupees so that they may realize the importance of money and make their way to homes.

omarqadir Jul 26, 2013 11:29pm

@Mystic: well said

Romesh Khardori Jul 26, 2013 11:32pm

Doctor wives is an accurate commentary on state of women going to medical schools in not just Pakistan, but now India as well.Often the impediment comes by way of husband's either not being duly qualified or gifted as their wives. I have seen a topper from a prominent medical school in Pakistan being forced to change her career simply because the husband could not pass examinations required to enter residency programs in the USA. Not only that he imposed stricter dress code on his wife while he would roam in shorts and loafers. I blame parents of these young girls who value their daughters less than a boy. Unless the parents change their mindset, lot of girls is not likely to change in near future.

Dr Suleman Otho Jul 26, 2013 11:34pm

I have been saying this for last more then a decade, the lack of social scientist have changed our interest from real social issue identification at the earliest and some possible remedies, this all started when supreme judiciary took a decision that now onwards the limited seats for female students will be finished with and the admissions will be on pure merit basis, this increased the number of females in public sector medical colleges, and then slowly the market of social marriage institute started to take a slow turn of finding a lady doctor as bahu and this pressure started to build on parents and they were ready to pay any amount of money to private sector medical colleges and now this changed attitudes of society so a summary decision that merit should be followed some times changes your society for worst

omarqadir Jul 26, 2013 11:36pm

This whole article is pointless. Yes it does try to make a point, but what point was that? What is wrong with Doctor, Lawyer and civil Servant wives? What is wrong if husband does not share the same enthusiasm and wants his bride to be a house wife? It's part of our culture and we must accept it. In fact I am more in favor of educated woman to be purely a house wife, because that way she would turn out to be an outclass woman for the future generation of Pakistan. She will be able to teach her children the real meaning of education and will produce fantastic boys and girls for Pakistan.

On a serious note I have to say that nothing is more valuable as well as important for a woman in Pakistan than that of Marriage. Let her change the Institution of Family and strengthen it.

Iram Jul 26, 2013 11:48pm

@arshd: You are reading about Pakistani culture and mindset often captured very well in Urdu digest.

samra Jul 27, 2013 12:15am

this is a baseless argument.the gender should not have anything to do with the profession, there are countless other professions that girls have persued but again due to the society pressures had to become a stay at home mom. i firmly believe that education of any kind is never wasted.An educated mom is never a waste for any kinda having this kinda approach we are putting shackles on not just the women of Pakistan but in the long run to their minds and the generations that will follow.....please come out of the box n let ppl who can have n affird education follow their it is our coutry is majorly suffering from Brain drain!!!!!!

sach Jul 27, 2013 12:28am

Marriage should be made compulsory for every girl seeking admission to a medical college! So that only the serious candidates may get admissions...

Jamal Jul 27, 2013 12:43am

I can relate to the positive side of this story: having married to a doctor, I've always made a point to ensure her practice/training never gets hurdled. Probably the most significant sacrifice on part of a newly wedded couple is stay worlds apart: I live abroad and she is here in Pakistan finishing her residency!

Khalid Jul 27, 2013 12:54am

@Pakman: You have highlighted one of the biggest social problems we have in Pakistan. We educate our boys and girls and then ask them to marry what we think is the best suited partner for them. First of all, the fact that they have very little say in who they want to spend the rest of their lives with is amazing. You sister went to Australia to "serve" her husband as if he has come from the heavens. What kind of upbringing do we provide to our boys?. To be honest with you, I have heard the mother of a boy "rejecting" a girl by saying that "I want a fair skinned girl for my boy". I thought what a shallow way of selecting a girl for your boy!. I am ashamed to be a Pakistani. Is this really how low we have sunk in our thinking?.

sherie Jul 27, 2013 01:25am

well finally someone said it. yes girls are becoming doctors and then happily taking up wifely and motherly duties...but not because they want to. a society that still sees the best place for a woman is home is bound to see this happen. and for stopping them from entering...well...may be in state owned colleges there should be a fifty fifty scheme...although i must say of my own class in a prestigious school there were a total of 5 boys who were as sharp and as good clinically as 50% of the girls. of course of all of us only 5 girls are still practicing...(including yours truly, before someone jumps to a conclusion) truthfully, pakistani woman goes through hell to get to university. dont take it away from her. her only 'jaez' activity. try making it possible for her to carry on. provide child care and stop considering her a lesser human because she focuses on her career more than on her house being clean. ..

moaviz Jul 27, 2013 01:29am

while ur article makes a compelling argument, one of its basic figures is factually flawed. the ratio of 70 to 30 quoted above may well have been true to a certain batch of DOW medical college, but to apply the same ratio over all is misleading. for example, during my 5 years at khyber medical college, there wasn't a single batch of students whose female ratio had peaked 50%...

True_very__True Jul 27, 2013 02:13am

I appreciate author's article - which is very informative. I will take my example - married to a Doctor - but soon after - my wife married - she stopped thinking about practicing any more. Since I was reasonably well off - her favorite - pass time was Shopping and making new clothes and after 16 years of our marriage - this is what she does. In the beginning I tried my best to remind her of the honorable profession that she belonged to but - i think PAKISTANI mentality of female doctors are - once you married to a wealthy man - who cares of Being a Doctor (which merely pays few thousand rs etc)..... There is no real Zeal for serving Humanity .... this is also true that the income of doctors is also such low that it does not attract them anymore and they find more greener pastures (fly to USA or Middle East etc) - where they earn 100 Time more :) but in the end - PAKISTAN is which is suffering

FD Jul 27, 2013 02:24am

Great article, it articulates the current situation very well. Having had some exposure to the medical setting in Pakistan, I have not only witnessed this myself, but have been repeatedly told by female medical students that this is the reality. Having an MBBS fetches a better proposal than simply having a bachelors. Moreover, doctors are highly respected in our society and bringing home a doctor elevates the husband's family's social status. What is tragic is that all this comes at a cost: our failing healthcare system. We have one of the poorest healthcare system in the world and many of the challenges stem from simply not having enough capable individuals to do the job. I really like the idea of having medical students complete two years of service in underserved areas - a longer commitment will deter many women who are only in it to increase their market value. We could also take the example of the West, in America and Canada the medical school admissions process is very rigorous. A student is not only required to take a very challenging exam, but they are required to have a first degree and to have completed a certain number of community service hours prior to applying. Not everyone can cross these hurdles, and thus only very committed individuals end up getting admitted to medical school. It is very rare to find an individual who completes medical in the US and does not actually practice. Furthermore, as a society we should resolve to look down upon a doctor who does not practice, because not only do they deplete our educational resources, they make our problems worse. Individuals who have the education and resources to attend medical school are some of the more privileged citizens of our country - they have taken from this country and it is their responsibility to give back.

Krishna Jul 27, 2013 03:09am

Guys, time to pull up your socks. Cannot believe Pak guys are slacking off so much :)

Irfan Mehr Jul 27, 2013 03:23am

In my recent comments on another bog "Father of taboos" I opined that we are a Psychopathically blind to reality people. We love to live in a state of denial, fools paradise. This very issue of female medical students (who become doctors but, for whatever reasons, fail to practice their training for the good of the society at large was) needed to be talked, discussed and resolved back when I passed my, and that has been a very long time, almost five decades ago. My father took this issue to the punjab high court to seek their intervention. But, we love to live in denial, and we have been very successful thus far to live in our paradise for the fools.

Dr. Junaid Khan Jul 27, 2013 03:32am

There has to be reasons why ladies quit medicine professionally (it,s definitely not just marriage). if you compare ladies of all professions, i guess doctors are the most beneficial even inside a household`. the solution to this issue of women quitting medicine is not an inhumane administrative bar on women entering the study of their choice or their parents, rather the society needs to know about need/demand of lady doctors especially in rural suburbs. So education for non doctor husbands sounds like the only solution. OR you can countercheck the argument by collecting another data of the doctors Vs non doctor husbands and lady doctor wives.

Saman Jul 27, 2013 04:39am

Well someone once told me about a female doctor in Pakistan who was such a nice daughter in law that she cooks "prathas and breakfast for her inlays before she leaves for the hospital , personally I want a doctor who cares for me , her personal life is not my concern and families of the doctors should realise that these females need to be committed or it can cost human lives , they should be able to manage with a toast and get off their seats to get it themselves. strong text

Saman Jul 27, 2013 04:44am

Was it really strong ?! I did not use bad language , I only stated facts , real ones. A doctor needs to be committed and people around should know that , if all female doctors are forced (in indirect ways ) to give priority else where , what will happen to medical profession ?! Don't people realise that when they are sick they need a doctor , a doctor who can pay attention to them , and people and families need to be more supportive of them ?!

Apna yaar Jul 27, 2013 04:48am

@arshd: I suspect ur on to Rafia's babble

bangash Jul 27, 2013 04:48am

Pakistan is a status-obsessed society. A doctor daughter in law is the latest status symbol.

NMA Jul 27, 2013 05:23am

The answer is simple - stop subsidising medical school. Instead charge cost price, and then use the budget to offer loans to intelligent students (as is done im the west). After graduation the student can either work some time in Pakistan to have the loan written off, or if they venture abroad they should over time pay back into the system till the cost is paid up. Only then will their degree be released.

Male or female, the cost of educating a doctor is extremely high and Pakistan as a nation should recover something from bearing that cost. Having a payment system will make sure people think twice before putting their daughters through the system on one hand, and on the other for those who immediately venture abroad they will be returning something to benefit the country.

hira Jul 27, 2013 05:24am

At this point v have to change our self because v ar the future , if v change the one family will be change and all . Solution will be Early marriges and the thinking of cont of education after that .. to progress v have to reject the bad cultural veiws and implimant the good one ..

adnan Jul 27, 2013 06:02am

What to do everyone wants to sell their story

Ajaya K Dutt Jul 27, 2013 06:24am

It was different in India when I was growing up. Girls were 'guide' towards medical education and boys towards Engineering.

It was a furor when my sister decided to go for engineering. In the end my father gave in and she went to become an electrical engineer from Thapar College in Patiala. But then a Rickshaw was arranged to take her to college everyday rather than her using her own bicycle as she did during her Pre Engineering classes.

Now I hear that girls make up almost half of student body and more of the toppers. (Boys have too may distractions).

Zahid Jul 27, 2013 06:27am

I love it when people like Rafia recommend national service for doctors. It is such a good idea that some form of national service should be required of all Pakistanis. When are you signing up Rafia?

Ajaya K Dutt Jul 27, 2013 06:29am

My sister who overcame stiff resistance to become an engineer, is perhaps more successful than me and my brother (also engineers). She was honored as highest Lady Technical executive in City of Los Angeles during year of women. LA unified school district invited her to be a role model of non-white girls.

Nothing like that for me or my brother.

Ajaya K Dutt Jul 27, 2013 06:30am

@arshd: Thanks to Dawn for pointing out a significant socio-economic-human aspect of girls education.

muziqmonk Jul 27, 2013 07:22am

Totally agree with the article. Thanks for shedding light on such an important issue.

AM Jul 27, 2013 08:02am

HIgher education such as MBBS is good thing making more doctors is better than having less....doctors can serve, participate in economy and scoiety in many ways it is not restricted to practicing medicine only. Hence saying we have too many doctors lets have less is a panic response to us having limited vision.

HMK Jul 27, 2013 08:50am

@Mystic: Why you can not think beyond that to me you are a kahani ghar ghar ki

Shaur Jul 27, 2013 09:52am

@Rafia Zakaria Following points I am writing are from my expeirece of discussion with few highly educated females in my grown up life and only ones who were friends or relatives or wives of friends. I hope before you wrote the article above, you had discussion with more than 20/30 numbers and with more diverse group (different cities, different income bracket). If you have not, then I am sorry this is not a scholarly work one hopes from person pursuing PhD. We have too many opinon writers, we need researchers who raise points not becuase they went to a engagement party and had discussion with some friends; but because they studied it. If not then what is difference between above article and random blog. I hope you understand it is not negative criticism. Rafia, where I have complained many times to my female cousins who decided not pursue professional paths after finishing highly competitive education, pointing fingers to men only is quite naive. I have few friends who stoped working because their husbands demanded it but I know many who tell me it was their decision. Secondly the phenomena you are mentionning is not new, male medical students in mid 1990s were complaining about the same. Female doctors have been quitting their studies and jobs for long time. Where in many casses "men" and "in-laws" are problem, they don't tell full story.

Your point is female students scumb to the demand of others. This makes sense, keeping what we know of our society. But if you talk to some, it's not always "outside factors", I have seen some give away their carreers because they feel they have to give more time to their kids. They were never able to come back because our system does not have any notion of accomdating people who take "off year". I have seen some, who seriously believe that they feel more comfortable at home than working (defintely they would have been pushed to work, if there were student loans), some of them initially only pursued because they secured top marks and thats what you do after securing top marks. Point is for many it is too easy to just drop the field, education is free (sponsored by govt. or parents), the social structure does not demand from them to support their family economically (atleast not openly). However I do agree with author that there should be requirement of service since govt. is giving free education. We need female work force not only in medicine but in all the branches of science.

Amber Jul 27, 2013 09:57am

Nice article. My daughter says I should have written this first because I have been saying this for years. I am myself a dedicated professional doctor and have worked nonstop for 30 years as a clinician with marriage and 2 children all grown up now mashallah. It is indeed hard work and you have to work 10 times harder than a man to get recognition.

I tell my women students that once they come into this profession do not give it up. out of many reasons topmost being that truly this is the best profession to be in :), you chose it for yourself hopefully ! also think of the large number of families you are depriving if a man had taken this seat and became a breadwinner and served this country.

In reality we need a lot more doctors than are coming into the work force and we are losing valuable human resource when we lose these smart young women to cooking and cleaning!! We never lose them to marriage because that is to be desired and is everyones right - for both men and women. Work and marriage should never be considered mutually exclusive , it is how both are managed that needs to be considered.

The statistics internationally is also much the same as in our universities, regarding women students vs men ,entering higher education . Girls are performing better, with more focus and hence get admission on merit to all the disciplines. In developed countries , they go on to work and contribute to society which is the purpose of education. In our society girls ,however educated they may be defer to their elders who maybe men or women of their families and eventually do their bidding particularly for marriage. In the final analysis society is the loser because we prevented talented young people whatever their gender from contributing to development and lost both trained human resource as well as financially because public sector medical education is heavily subsidized.

I think we should talk about this frequently , particularly the elders who wield influence and try and nudge and prod mindsets towards a healthier attitude towards life, work and education. The young and the talented and the trained should also not give in easily to obsolete demands. I know many courageous young women who have done very well and their families have appreciated them finally although they were very hesitant to break cultural norms initially.

Safa Jul 27, 2013 10:12am

so true! I call them the rishta drs. The same can be said about young women in almost every field. They get jobs easily as compared to young male graduates, even though quite many do not 'need' the job to feed their families.

rana1 Jul 27, 2013 10:25am

@Munnazir: well now we can change who will become the income earner and who gets to sit at home to take care of the kids.If society changed to get girls educated no matter for what purposes,then now its time to reverse the roles played in home making

rana1 Jul 27, 2013 10:28am

@Pakman: seems educating a girl to the highest level is only meant to get a good proposal.Parents know very well what they are upto when they educate their daughters, just to get acha rishta.

easlam Jul 27, 2013 10:29am

@Pakman: Sadly...the larger question is that should doing menial tasks be restricted or assumed as the fate of ANY woman....whether she is a doctor or not a doctor? We need to respect the dignity of women irrespective of medical education credentials!

ahmad Jul 27, 2013 10:53am

The approach to this problem is really unrealistic. The main problem is lack of infrastructure to accommodate the doctors. The boys have realized that and have started looking into different fields for higher education. soon the girls will realize this also. There should be a realistic approach to accommodate lady doctors in the hospitals, limiting there duty hours if she is married or has children. Also thanks to the CM And media that those doctors who want to work prefer going abroad than to serve this nation.

Qamar Jul 27, 2013 11:19am

My mom also wants a dactar bahu :D, but actually i don't care

John Jul 27, 2013 12:09pm

This article show the caliber of Dawn's journalism!

Mansoor Jul 27, 2013 12:50pm

I totally agree .i think it is a waste of resources and our poor country cannot afford it.women should not be sent to medical schools just to satisfy the egos of wannabe husbands that are waiting to marry a doctor larki

Sam A Khan Jul 27, 2013 01:17pm

Its very true and after reading the view of readers,it shows still people in our society are less aware of the grimace of situation.All people are just according to their mentality and under pressure of social taboos are delivering words which justifies what they are living under such set-up.In fact this article has been written for to open debate about what to do in such prevailing situation.Should we keep going as usual to further tarnish our society or some constructive solution needs to be posed.I think,we can bring changes to this system by bringing short-term or until we qualify enough as a nation to get out of this social stigma.I think a better solution and may be considered temporarily as in other such islamic societies was imposed is to change the figures available.In Iran for example number of girls entering the medical schools were exceeding the boys but the girls were unable to move remote areas.they found a logical solution of dividing seats 50-50 among girls and boys

Amin Jul 27, 2013 01:35pm

It is quite interesting fact discussed by the renowned author but i think she limits it to the doctors only while it is true for the females of the other professions which are time demanding like banking. however women teachers likely to continue jobs because of little time spent at the job. Moreover it is general psyche of Pakistani girls that they do not prefer to work after marriage, rather attach more value to the peaceful married life. they work before marriage but wish to spend more time with their babies after marriage. so it is not only the males or in-laws who bind them in-house but they themselves feel comfortable in it.

Eraj Jul 27, 2013 02:07pm

Rafia, you miss a very important issue, without which this analysis is at best half baked. today, our medical students attend government run medical schools virtually for free. the cost of dropping out and/or getting married is negligible. when medical students, male or female, and their families, have to pay through their noses for the privilege of being doctors, as is the case in say, the US, they will never enter these colleges unless they are committed enough to the profession to believe they will earn the cost back many times over. you talk about female doctors who get married. what about the males who study for free at dow for 5 years, as opposed to paying full tuition with student loans and spending 8-10 years in the US, then leave immediately. it is Criminal, the way both male and female students abuse our medical colleges. If you want to become a doctor, you should be willing to pay for it.

No_Name Jul 27, 2013 02:09pm

i appreciate bringing this matter to world's attention. I married to a doctor. I was on a high profile job and earning reasonably high salary (by Pak Standards). Unfortunately my wife turned away from studies - as soon as she found out a comfortable life and her only SHOUK (Hobby) was shopping, chatting and clothing (for her self and kids). I on the other hands was a self made person whose success was based on dedication to his profession. I feel that her being a doctor was only a means to get a good husband (high income). This could be true for most of the girls (women) in Pakistan. Since by becoming a doctor - if they work - the income does not cross more than 5 figures (for a reasonable period of time) - or some of them (the brightest) - go to US or Middle East.

excalibur Jul 27, 2013 03:04pm

The author is suffering from some inferiority complex. In a previous rant she moaned about a glut of doctors and now she feels there is a surplus. She wants female doctors to be only under a small quota regardless of merit and als wants them to work in rural areas without proper safety and security.

Where is she coming from ?

Sonal Jul 27, 2013 03:18pm

I know this is easier said than done, but we need to stop blaming men and society for not letting women pursue their career ambitions. Women are partly to be blamed for bringing this upon themselves. We women should be strong enough to stand up for our rights and change societal thinking, if that's what it takes. Things won't come to us on a platter.

I say this as a woman who has grown up in a middle class Indian family. I didn't grow up in a society where women could / can do as they please. My parents were not ready to let me go from Bombay to Delhi to study - "how can a girl live alone in a new city, and away from home?" - but I was stubborn and went away to North America without any financial backing from them, studied on student loans and scholarships, and am now independent and an equal to my husband. If I had just accepted my fate back then, I'd probably be a submissive housewife somewhere in a suburb of Bombay today.

Doctor Jul 27, 2013 03:27pm


Doctor Jul 27, 2013 03:32pm

@Pakman: well both parties are equally responsible when making a marriage decision in addition to the LARKA and LARKI (the concerned parties), same like your sister made a decision to become a docor and everyone of your family members happily bowed to it...

I just wonder only if the "rishta" was not from a foreign pakistani!!

Usher Jul 27, 2013 03:34pm

@arshd: some kinda complex you have Mr Brown

Ali Jul 27, 2013 04:36pm

The simplest solution is to make everyone to sign a bond. If they drop out of med school or fail to practice for a minimum number of years , they would be liable to pay for the subsidy they received during their schooling plus an additional fine. Applicable to all regardless of gender.

dr jawed Jul 27, 2013 05:36pm

@Pakman: Sorry to say but if you yourself can't help out your sister in that matter then how and why we should blame system.

dr jawed Jul 27, 2013 05:39pm

@Agha Ata: I guess mr. Agha you missed the point. No gender bias=agreed. Girls are not allowed or they themselves don't want to practice after getting married.

Nadeem Jul 27, 2013 05:40pm

Very well researched and written.

Aimen Tahir Jul 27, 2013 05:56pm

This is a good perspective of the present demand for bahus to which I agree. There certainly do exist many who desire an MBBS/BDS bahu yet I shall put another fact in view. Lately, many families, yes, even in Pakistan, on seeking doctor bahus, have made sure that they work too. These families are diverse in backgrounds, belonging from Multan and Sukkur to places like Lahore and Karachi. This obviously shows that the trend has begun changing strongly and their degrees do not necessarily go wasted. In fact, families with even a slightly liberal mindset are seeking doctor bahus only so that their bahus can practice and not participate in family politics by staying idle at home..Saases have evolved, so have families. It would have been enlightening had the writer given the other side's story too and then made her conclusion.

Zia Jul 27, 2013 06:40pm

I think any female doctor can carry on their desire to practice the medicine if she has the strong will to server the humanity who chooses this profession. In our society woman has less choices when it comes career and wife with a career. The culture / society we live in does discriminate and looked dowm female population if they try do anything different then norm.This can not be achived without spouse strong support. The female has play a big role as care taker of the family including father & mother inlaws . I think time has comes now to accept these social change .....In some cases where rules has been set and with there coporation I have seen where both can be achive with acceptance & understanding of new and better way of living our life in not so friendly economic conditions. Women doing more and more then before we all have accept that. I think for female doctor I should be talk about or precondition before they get married whether to have career or not after been married. With all the due respect with older generation they this a sign of time that resistance to this further would complicate things more if that stand in their career way. They will not be doing justice to the career female population. Time has comes where we all have to accept this change for better.

mahan Jul 27, 2013 07:20pm

@Pakman: Sadly, such fine female physicians can not give 100% for advancement in their career either such as in academics and research. That will frustrate them for not doing justice for their jobs in either fronts.

Umar Jul 27, 2013 07:34pm

I respectfully disagree. As a physician myself, I must say we desperately need women physician to improve the health of our women. We need them in every speciality. The solution is not to force them to work, but provide them safe working environment and incentives to retain this vital work force. In Pakistan it is very difficult to survive a career in medicine even as a male and for women it is 10 times harder. Why the forced labor for 2 years issue raised for physicians only. Why not make every Pakistani college graduate to do 2 year service in under served area. The reason physicians are not made to do those 2 years is that even in those under served area, jobs are hard to find. South Africa which has suffered from racial discrimination for years is not an example for us to follow.

Umar Jul 27, 2013 07:36pm

@Munnazir: Pakistan does not need to be male dominated society. It has served us no good. Women education is important so that they can same opportunities as men. No need to dominate each other. Umar

gangadin Jul 27, 2013 07:48pm

There are two different points being brought up by the author. One is of men being bossy to women and the other is attrition rate of female doctors and I being an illiterate pandoo did not make a connection between the two. However, manly men DO NOT boss a woman. They are good husbands, fathers, brothers etc. and they DO NOT feel the need to boss around. They are automatically respected and their marriages last for ever. They do not cheat, raise their voice or hand at the female. They quietly maintain a relationship regardless of the fact whether a woman is less educated or more than them. You just have to find them. They are out there. Regarding attrition of female graduates of medical schools, who knows, there are several factors starting from family pressure to get married at a certain age and be something as a tradition of a particular family to just not wanting to work. This part needs further exploration. But it will be a good idea to mandate service for a certain number of years for ALL.

Romesh Khardori Jul 27, 2013 07:49pm

@Pakman: Dear Pakman, I wrote a letter to Dawn which was not published. I had reiterated that bright women of Pakistan suffer largely because of girls being treated as second rate citizens compared to boys. This also happens to be case in India to a large extent. I had mentioned how a bright topper female student from Pakistan's top medical school was prevented from pursuing advanced training in medicine by her husband who could not pass the qualifying examinations to enter residency training program in the USA. Not only that he imposed dress code on her while himself roaming in shorts and loafers. As a training program director, it was heartbreaking incident for me, but there was nothing I could do to improve her lot. She was a mother of two and wanted to save her marriage because she had grown in a single parent family. Till this date I could not understand why she did not divorce this male tyrant who stood in her way at every step.

Concerned Citizen Jul 27, 2013 09:29pm

Agreeing with the writer suggestion of having 2 years of mandatory service to graduate, but this should not be limited to doctors only. This should also be applied to engineer's as well.

marium Jul 27, 2013 09:31pm

So the reason why there are more women in any pakistani university/college is because our pakistani boys are too busy getting impressed by salman khan. When the boys start taking responsibility, thats when this issue should be brought up. Besides, you work if you want to work, no saas susar shohar can tell you to to not work. I have plenty of female doctors in my family who broke off engagements after their husband to bes told them they wont be allowed to work. So, all in all, it really depends on the kind of person you are, slacker or not!!

abu Jul 27, 2013 09:32pm

educated women married will help educate there children

abu Jul 27, 2013 09:33pm

girl should get educate

Saman Jul 27, 2013 09:35pm

I really think we need the quota system back. I am myself a "doctor bride" sitting comfortably in UAE, spending happily my husband's income n bringing up our son. Books, work, medicine, I neither hv the time, need, n perhaps not even brains, to think about those now. N I was NOT the dumbest student in class. All my friends who got married, are doing the same. So y make so many ungrateful girls doctors, in the first place?

BALOCH Jul 27, 2013 11:28pm

Good blog. A lot of responsibility is to be taken by a man who decides to take a doctor as his wife. He though is more interested in the status of her wife being doctor but on the contrary it demands lots of sacrifices and support to that lady who decides to live her rest of life as per his wish. I think she (doctor wife) needs lots of assurance and motivation by her husband that she can and should progress in her profession. My personal experience is Doctor is Better WIFE and MOTHER.

zain Mehdi Jul 27, 2013 11:30pm

I agree with the statistics that most girls who pass out fail to practice. But we have to consider the fact that the no. of medical colleges in private sector have markedly increased. Also a large no. of women docotors are now directing their efforts towards the basic side i.e teaching medical students. This line of work is more acceptable to their families, and will help fill the scarcity of good teachers in medical colleges, which might help increase the standard of our medical education. Now, as far as I know there is no scarcity of doctors in Pakistan. Doctors are not getting post graduate training oppurtunities even after passing FCPS part 1. So whats the point. All in all, there is no problem with girls getting medical degrees even if they dont want to practice it. I mean it doesnt have any impact on the country. But offcourse, if you dont practice you do end up forgetting everything and it becomes much harder to start again.

TamzaK Jul 27, 2013 11:39pm

@Agha Ata: But since 'society' consumes resources in education, IF the charges do not reflect actual costs then there must be a 'service' component built in to the education. That is, if you do not serve in that capacity for a certain number of years (within the first 10 years after graduation) you must pay back to the government the cost that was incurred in providing you that education.

sumit mazumdar Jul 28, 2013 12:09am

This is by far the saddest article that I have ever read in this newspaper - and I have been reading it since the Dawn became available on the internet. Throughout these years I was under the impression that in spite of the stupidities of our politicians, and even the occasional blind hatred or the one-upmanships on both Pakistani and Indian sides that go back years, the middle class educated Pakistani is as progressive as her/his counterpart in India. Now we find that that is not true - even the middle/upper class highly educated women are expected to be mere wives and mothers! It costs a fortune to train a doctor anywhere in the world - what a terrible terrible waste of resources! And to think that in many conservative families they probably insist that women should see only women doctors - and the latter are not available!

I hope society as a whole fights against this stupidity. There is no proof that working women make poor mothers.

Farooq Jul 28, 2013 12:17am

@Agha Ata: In a country where unemployment is rampant it seems like a crime to allow un checked admissions to females in medical colleges when most of them do not actively pursue a career in medicine later on, Becoming a doctor nowsadays is all about increasing your market value to get a good match. Unfortunately anyone suggesting that setas for females in medical colleges should be restricted would be dubbed a male chauvinist and retrogressive person while we will keep on wasting our precious resources in t

IBN-E-ASHFAQUE Jul 28, 2013 12:35am

@Pakman: My heart goes out for the young doctor. However, the role of women in Pakistan needs to be debated so that individuals and society as a whole can make informed choice. It is also imperative that parents should raise this issue before marrying off ther daughters. I know women doctors who have quit medicine for being a housewife and are happy at it, while I also know women doctors who are working fulltime and some parttime and each goes with their personal preferences. The societal conditions in Pakistan are evolving and women are having ever greater opportunities.

haid Jul 28, 2013 01:14am

I think the problem lies at different levels. I m a doctor, i live with my husband and kid, i want to work i cannot because i don't have a place to leave my kid. how many authorized daycares exist ,how many work places have day care and with the increasing number of child abuse you cannot leave your kid just any where. there are no child friendly cafes or restaurants leave alone child friendly work places.Is it because we don't encourage women to work, its not that women are wasting seats for other people i think women are not being give enough opportunities and working environment to pursue their careers further.

Dr. Faisal Jul 28, 2013 03:29am

After teaching in a medical college for over 5 years now....... I had well over 80% of my students to be ladies, and almost 80% of them are not practicing as they were supposed to...... So is it a gender discrimination when I say that this kind of routine is going to destroy our medical and social system..... I don't think so....... we just need people who are willing to practically put forward what they have learned.......if they need a matrimonial degrees then I think there are a lot of other no.medical degrees which can help them in being better wives........ That's just me. I don't know wwhat others think...... It's a free world!

Farhan Jul 28, 2013 03:37am

Very interesting topic . The implications of this merit based system have been discussed since the Supreme court struck down the specific gender based quotas. I think the merit based system should not be looked as the root of the problem. Merit and merit should be the soul criterion for any educational institution or any institution for that matter. We have to realise that when a positive change is made its full implications are not obvious in short term. The supreme court decision was one such change. It was meant to remove prejudice towards the girls and women which has persisted in this male dominated society for so long and continue to permeate every section of our society. It's fruits will be borne by our great great grand children. The answer to the negative fall outs of this change is not to revert back to the old system of discrimination. Instead we need to find out ways to improve the current system. This could come in the form of incentives for female doctors to continue to practice the profession they so proudly chose. The government and the society should make it easier for these young doctors to enter practical life. Living abroad and practicing as a physician I can already see more and more young Pakistani women enter medical residencies after finishing their education in Pakistan. We should all be celebrating the Supreme court decision. Being a son of a woman who unfortunatley could not become a doctor because of the old quota based admission policy and lamented that for rest of her life I am sure that the time will come when woman will not only complete their dream education but full fill all their aspirations. Let's hold on to merit!

A G Jul 28, 2013 05:05am

A class fellow in university once suggested that the government should make it mandatory for all medical graduates especially females (we both are women too) to serve at least 2 years in Pakistan and then they should award the degree to them. Fine them if they don't complete the tenure. if it is due to a marriage situation, fine the in laws if they are stopping her from working. kids and parents alike will think twice before going into a profession that some take as a status symbol rather than the spirit of humanity that it is based on..

for it Seems to make more sense now as day by day u see doctor leaving the country (one can't blame them too) and many female students suffer the scenarios sighted in the article above.

This was suggested about 10 years ago where the boon of all these private medical schools was starting to take root . The government colleges cover the cost of these medical studies and yet the people are not able to reap the benefits of many of these professionals.

True Bits Jul 28, 2013 06:09am

while i tend to agree to a certain degree but not completely. Its not only demand for doctor brides, there is also tendency to become a doctor for only to be bride of good match and not for purpose of achieving professional excellence. Once they get married, many would only love to stay home and do not wish to work in healthcare even if allowed by partners making it a waste of skills, many would only opt for work only if compelled by financial situation! well I am a husband to such bride who do not wish to go back to profession even after 10 years of wedding. ;)

beam Jul 28, 2013 08:11am

what a waste!

illawarrior Jul 28, 2013 08:14am

@Pakman: Husbands can not only be questioned, they can be defied and ignored. The sooner Pakistani women realize they are more than capable of making their own decisions (including choice of husband, or choice not to marry at all), the better!

illawarrior Jul 28, 2013 08:14am

@Shah: A good reason not to let your parents choose your spouse.

haseeb bhatti Jul 28, 2013 09:15am

the problem that local market is unable to absorb the fresh graduates can only be solved by decentralization, deputation of supervisors according to their domicile so that over there they can play role in infrastructure building ,and secondly there should be At least two year commitment period(serving in the periphery) for a permanent registration with PMDC.

sadia Jul 28, 2013 09:27am

Well the only thing we need is awareness and importance of medical education.Inlaws n husbands should realise that spending 5years in a medical college is not n easy job they should encourage there daughter in laws n wives to persue their careers ,instead of wasting that by sitting at homes doing house hold chores n make their ways easy in persuing that .The mind of these people should b changed that daughter in laws who r daughter is not a status symbol instead they should realise the importance of her education or they should set the priorities n tell the girls before marriage they should rather go for non professional brides if they really want housewives why wasting the education of these drs n threir should b strict laws made by govt to ensure that future of female dr should nt b wasted

vigilant Jul 28, 2013 10:21am

In medical institutions Females are 70 to 80% while in engineering institutions males are 70 to 80% so i kind of a balance between top two professions of the country. Now trend is changing people in our country are not just marrying female doctors to be manliest but have more financial stability by having working life partner. i want my wife to be a doctor or engineer just boost about it company of others or make her cook or clean but let her practice the profession in all ways possible.

EQ8Rhomes Jul 28, 2013 11:26am

@Munnazir: Female number is universities are much higher than male counts. everywhere else, the balance of power changes. But highly educated women are having to settle for men who are less educated . Problem: The minds don't meet intellectually, and Tallaq happens. World over, guys are in a funk. Girls are flying academically.But, if they are still bound to the Rasoi and motherhood--unable to practice their skills, it is a waste if education. Maybe Mian Saheb, Saasooji, Sassura, can work less and balance life!

Feroz Jul 28, 2013 12:25pm

@Pakman: Once in Australia no one can stop her from pursuing all her goals. Always do what your heart tells you to not what society expects you to, else you will remain miserable in your own pity.

Omar Jul 28, 2013 12:42pm

It is a relevant issue and I think we men have to share equal blame for that. First most of us want doctors without any logical reason and then we lack the commitment to put in a shift in order to allow the doctor to practice thus putting way too much burden on them. This fascination with doctors then create a huge demand for medical education in female population thus blocking the way for many male aspirants who could have been more useful to society in long run. As for the issue of compulsory service in underdeveloped areas I don't think this would help much either. The prevalent level of corruption would allow people with means to avoid it altogether. I am an engineer and we have to work in far flung areas because most large industry is not based around cities, doctors don't have that problem.

Mohammad Khalid Jul 28, 2013 12:53pm

I think she needs to keep her thoughts to herself. Her articles will disrupt some happily married couple someday.

Maverick Jul 28, 2013 01:19pm

This article is very appealing and addresses the geneuine problem in society. However it also sheds light on the society's overemphasis on the postion rather than the personality and character.

confucius Jul 28, 2013 02:27pm

Very interesting article: there are lots of second generation women muslim doctors in the UK from the sub-continent, who pursue a full career in the UK. They do it in spite of very little help at home, either from family or domestic help, both of which should be easy to get in Pakistan. Perhaps, these doctor brides marry very rich people, where the money that they could earn is not important, as that is an important consideration for their extended families in the UK and trumps any cultural misgivings.

Yes, selection to medical school should be by merit, but merit also includes committment to putting their training to good use!

Hafsa Jul 28, 2013 03:07pm

Why do we expect Lady Doctors to be wives mothers and look after husband and home too....if we are so eager to incorporate them into working system then we should make our domestic expectations less....Doctors are actually meant to make money, rather to server humanity....if just service is concerned it can done by working voluntarily(without pay) even if a Doctor saves A lif or if a life is not wasted by a Doctor due his/her family issues!

Kamran Jul 28, 2013 03:07pm

@Saad Mateen Ahmed: Good One Saad

Kamran Jul 28, 2013 03:25pm

@Shehla: Why not any other degree is what I want to address, Any other degree would help one's own self or help the system by one's contribution to it (may be), but a medical degree especially in the country like Pakistan would not only raise a family to some heights, rather would definitely help the nation, where the scarcity of female gynae's are adding to the child mortality rates, where lot of families in our country would consider visiting a male doctor beyond imagination....

i would once again love Saad's advice in this matter that our sisters, daughters , wives should not be deprived of selecting a future of their choice through any fixed quota, rather should have to pay the expenses back, if they do not work for a minimum amount of time. Actually, in this case we (Men) would have to think about making our wives sit at home twice,,, Since the expenses incurred on a female doctor would have to be payed back by us.

B Jul 28, 2013 04:16pm

@Malik: Which era are you living in!! Even a break of a few months takes us doctors years back! Wake up and look around yourself instead of dying in your cocoon

Sonal Jul 28, 2013 05:21pm

Hi, please could you post my comment too? Thanks!

shoaib Jul 28, 2013 05:38pm

In Islam, the true duty of a woman is her home, her children and her Husband. To be a successful muslim woman, a lady has to satisfy these duties. Being a doctor is a full time job and demands lots of time and energy. Its almost impossible to be a trully successful Muslim woman and a successful doctor at the same time. I think there should be a maximum quota of Female medical students at 20%, and similar quotas in all professsional degrees.

Venkat Jul 28, 2013 05:49pm

@NMA: How can they work abroad if their degree is not released?

Qaiser Jul 28, 2013 05:59pm

@Ahmed: I get it you are not a doctor. Either that or you are severely misinformed about the working conditions in your own country. It's one of the few professions where females can still work without fear or manipulation.

And way to give a positive impression of your country.

shoaib Jul 28, 2013 06:14pm

The true duty of a muslim woman according to islam is to manage the home, children and husband, and there is no better service to society then to raise good children who will become good practicing muslims. Being a doctor is a full time job, requires lots of time and energy. It is very difficult for women to satisfy both jobs and is unfair on them. I think the maximum quota for female medical students should be restricted to 20%.

Sonal Jul 28, 2013 06:52pm

I think women are partly to blame for the plight we're in. I know this is easier said than done, but women need to stop hoping that men and society in general will change, and take things in our own hands instead.

I grew up in a middle class family in India. Things aren't tremendously different there - we're part of the same culture after all. When it came to sending me to university, my parents, who are otherwise quite liberal, were completely against letting me even go from Bombay to Delhi to study. "How can a young girl your age live by herself in a different city?" I was stubborn though, and went away to N America without any financial support from them, and am now an independent woman, an equal to my husband in many respects.

If I had accepted my fate back then, I would perhaps be a submissive woman somewhere in a suburb of Bombay, dreaming that my own daughter has a better fate.

Sickofthisshit Jul 28, 2013 06:56pm

It is appalling how you make a generalized statement like that without researching into the matter or conducting interviews with the women who are not practicing. Have you seen the government hospitals and the way doctors work there. Let me tell you, my wife is a doctor, everyone in my family including me have fully supported her. Still she wants to quit, not because of an evil husband but because of the terrible conditions they have to work in. While men have to slave away there because they have families to feed many women in pakistan are privileged to be taken care of. And entering a hospital is not the only option anymore for medical students. So a lot of women do just that, not because of their marriages but because they have better options which suck the life out of them much less

ahmad Jul 28, 2013 07:44pm

@Qaiser: first of all I am a doctor, with majority of my family in health profession for the last three generations. So yes I know what I am talking about. I have seen doctors helping the needy in government hospital like u may not imagine possible. The problems are administrative rather than of individual doctors failure. If the system doesn't support the health department then don't expect doctors to do miracles. We have had enough of criticism on doctors to last for next few generations. I hope the rest of the doctors find good job overseas so that this judgmental ungreatly nation and its media can go to hakeems or get expensive treatments from abroad. The problems with the health sector cannot be solved until government start spending on it with sincere uncorrupt people running the health department. As far as the impression of this nation is concerned, I can assure you that doctors have contributed more to building our repute over seas than the champions of democracy running out country now. Thank you.

Su Jul 28, 2013 08:09pm

I think to overcome this problem of Doctor wives giving up their career once they are settled in comfortable life or could not pursue their careers since engaged with family and kids we need to introduce part time jobs for female doctors who want to look after families and continue jobs. Working part time provides flexibility of hours and also that way give women a satisfaction of earning and more importantly that she can return to work full time once she thinks kids are grown up. Also that way we have more man (women power) power on ground working round the clock. Signing bond is not the solution since birds who have to fly, no one can hold them or restrict them especially in a system where bribery is prevailing. Guys dont take this article biased or unrealistic, atleast some one have made effort to raise an issue and provoke thought (Welldone!). Might be someone reading this article who have given up career start thinking again where she is now and what she can do!

jamil Jul 28, 2013 08:37pm

author has not heard the term "rishta MBBS" , i suppose.

Sara Bachani Jul 28, 2013 08:43pm

@Qaiser: The author may not be a doctor and may be unaware of working conditions in hospitals in the country, but the statistics he presents cannot be ignored.

Dr.Emmy Jul 28, 2013 09:08pm

A wonderful article. i truly feel sorry for all those women out there who subdue to their husbands' demand of not going out to work. after 5 years of such tough studies and another year of hectic house job, all you do is go home to make rotis, this is truly a waste of such brilliant minds and work-power. All those developed countries have reached this point due to an equal contribution by women, in every field. Our nation's dilemma is 'domestic politics' and the current lifestyle in which nobody in the house is trained to take up their own responsibility and all has to be done by the wife, the mother. this so-called ';family culture' needs to be remodelled. And every woman should stand up for herself.

Novaira Jul 28, 2013 09:10pm

@ahmad: they indeed do prefer going abroad bcuz after studying the most difficult educational program of medicine for 7 years (including pre-med) and an year after that of gruesome internships and then spending the following years giving the most challenging post-grad exams, one expects to be rewarded with a job that pays enough to make the lives of the doctors themselves and their families atleast comfortable! But sadly due to 'our nations' lack of resources and economy, the healthcare system only ends up offering them a job for what an average of Rs 35,000. How many of you can say that that kind of an exiguous wage is enough (for your family and urself) to live a life that is not hand-to-mouth in this era of inflation. Doctors in Pakistan spend their night and day working arduously from one hospital to another, from clinic to clinic just so that they know what they're providing to their families is a little more than 'hand-to-mouth'. So in that quest they end up giving the most energetic youthful era of their lives to the stressful, corrupted, not to forget this unsafe (considering none of you are sure of returning home safely at the end of the day) and hostile environment of Pakistan when they do have the option to spend it well somewhere else in the world where they are much more respected, well-paid and incentivized, safe and more welcomed to spending quality lifetime with their family alongside their stressful job as a doctor. As far as the doctor brides are concerned, time is changing. There is an upside and a downside to every issue. While there are still women in Pakistan who opt for medical studies and dont persue the career afterwards, there are millions of Pakistani female doctors who are going through the process of post-graduation and competitively taking up jobs all over Pakistan and the rest of the countries in the world.

Aalia Khan Jul 28, 2013 11:16pm

It's the same old system in an advanced way. When mothers of sons go bahoo shopping, there's much they require from a daughter in law, and it's worse to see that so many young girls are striving so hard to fit into that requirement physically and academically not only for her in-laws but her own family, since apparently according to many Asians, for a girl, the best and only respectable profession is being a doctor. I cannot believe that around eighty percent of Pakistani girls are interested in the medical field- they must interested in everything that comes with the TITLE which is so wrong. Many of them have been forced into pursuing that profession, when their interest lies somewhere else. Pakistan not only needs female doctors and male engineers. There are several other professions available, all that could help Pakistan grow as a nation to the heights of success. If only people stopped giving into these stereotype concepts, things would have been much better but they keep sinking into that same quicksand that's taking us down, whatever form it's disguised in.

Sara Jul 28, 2013 11:59pm

99% of male doctors are trying to flee abroad. Its a useless article. Education is never wasted.A doctor wife & a doctor mother is a plus. Pakistan doesnot need more doctors.Howeverit needs a good system so that doctors are deployed in rural areas & serve the nation instead of moving abroad or changing careers.

Ghulam Rubbani Jul 29, 2013 01:12am

As expenses on medical education are very high, huge public money is spent on each medical student, students pay only 10% of actual expenditure. I suggest, government should give its 90% amount to student as a loan. Those who serve the people as a doctor, that amount should be waived off year by year, those who leave this field, they should refund the government loan. In this way, only serious minded will come forward to become doctor and serve the people. female doctors and their in laws have to pay huge amount if they want to leave this field. thanks

shafiq khan Jul 29, 2013 01:13am

Some thoughtful points but it appears that the author is mainly concerned with the end results of the medical education. There need be no holding back the women education. Which is horrible step to take.

The medical colleges of fifty or sixty years ago produced graduates who had comparable (roughly) qualifications to European qualifications. Today it is not the case. The graduates from medical colleges in Pakistan have not got the foggiest notion of the state of knowledge required in Europe. The use of unfair influences at admissions in medical colleges. Therefore the deserving candidates are left out. If the admission system was fair then the gender ratio will be consistent with the applicants gender ratio.

I know it is pie in the sky scenario: Raise the standards of admission qualifications. Raise the standard of the qualification, to a comparable foreign medical graduates. Look at the basic essentials of medical education facilities available in the colleges of medicine.

Having a service requirement after qualification can be justified but other manufactured reasons for women to stop entering medical colleges are not acceptable in a democracy.

Once they have qualified they can do whatever they like. It shoud be good to see an Islamic attitude to marriage. Only the girl decides, whom she wish to marry. That might be a good start to solve a difficult problem. Parents pressure and societal stigma is not Islamic.

Unfortunately the rich and the powerful will have their own way . If you can stop that the other reasons will faint into insignificance.

Look at the restriction re. candidacy for the election of the legislatures !

Not many paupers got caught pretending to have a degree. Only the rich and the influential. Can we afford telling lies and plain dishonesty of the rich and the influential

Get the standard of the medical qualification high enough, at least to compare with the best of the Indian Universities. That is the least the honourable governing elite could do. Shafiq

Dr Mujahid Zafar Jul 29, 2013 04:05am

The answer is not limiting seats for girls.We need Lady doctors to treat women in our conservative society. When girls are ready to pay their way in private universities the issue of state ownership is no longer valid. 1 The training period of all medical students male and female should be same. 2 There can be a modified job structure for lady doctors with flexible hours and a chance to be away from active work for an year or two and return to duty or practice. 3 usually the lady doctors want to return to work after the children are grown up. At that time they have no way to return to medicine.

NASAH (USA) Jul 29, 2013 06:17am

What a waste of country's resources!

raw is war Jul 29, 2013 06:41am

grt article

Degree , Dowry & Dame Jul 29, 2013 08:39am

The rising middle class has changing norms, now they do not prefer dowry and your right that they prefer "degree dowry" . Idealistically the merit system is of no harm to the society. One aspect would be the lack of interest and competitiveness from male students that apply to medical schools. Nonetheless, in the larger perspective it is time the doctors reflect on their roles as Messiah in the society.

farideh zivary Jul 29, 2013 08:40am

Interesting article.More women in medical schools is a world wide phenomena including very advanced nations like Canada and USA.It is also true that most women doctors in these societies also are not specialists as it takes longer and they do not want to waste their productive years in further education.They also do not work as much as the male doctors do.Most work part time and some do not work at all and decide to raise families.This is just fine as this is their choice.There is a debate in Canadian medical circles as what to do about it.The only country where these women's money making ability is not wasted seems to be India where money making comes first and everything else last.Regarding men wanting to marry women doctors to just order them around is a faminenistic bluster.I do not however rule out a few sickos in every society not just in Pakistan and it is not only men either.

asad Jul 29, 2013 10:45am

@Hafsa: Dear we require doctors to work for money, problem in Pakistan is that even with money you do not have access to medical facilities at certain places specially the Lady doctor or a lady Gynecologist. In most of the rural areas male doctors are absent and this gap of physicians is filled by Quacks, Dispensers on the male side and untrained and semi trained midwives on female side.Their practices resulted in high Maternal Mortality, child mortality and spread of diseases such as Hepatitis B and C.

asad Jul 29, 2013 11:15am

@Eraj: most balanced remark and true picture of our system. Make students pay for their education at professional and university level

tnemeganam Jul 29, 2013 11:37am

I have lot of doctors-females-in my family. She has made very few valid points, but the overall quality of the article can be improved by doing first hand research.

tb Jul 29, 2013 12:36pm

i am a dentist, a woman, who managed to do post graduation/ specialization. (with a lot of help from my in laws), my husband was not looking for a doctor but ended up with one. Currently i am working in the biggest govt medical college of the city, and so many girls (with whom i managed to chat), studying here are due to the reason that their job prospects will get better. So many of my female colleagues who completed their post grad training with me but to date have not been able to get their specialization, complain that their in-laws are not supportive of their studying, (strangely some dont mind them working, but will not let them sit in the libraries to study and pass their exams). Our system's main problem (and this is ofcourse just my opinion) is that we place too much importance on what the mom/ dad in law want us to do, the husbands (who probably never listened/ agreed to any advice/ order of their parents ), give utmost important to the parents wishes when it comes to their wives. I think they need to man up, i think a newly married couple needs to be given space to develop their own relationship, and make their own rules as far as what they want to do with their lives. i agree that in some cases its the husband who wants the wife to stay home, but then again the above mentioned is based on what i ve noticed among my colleagues and friends

Sayeed Altaf Hussein Jul 29, 2013 02:56pm

@Novaira: Are you talking about Pakistani Doctors? Obviously you have not been to a Pakistan hospital. They spend their time talking and drinking tea while patients are waiting to be treated. I had the misfortune to take my relative to a NHS hospital in a very influential area but after being sent post to pillar I had to take them to private hospital for treatment. There were enormous number of staff some of them were sleeping on the desks but not treating patients and others were chatting up female staff. that is the state of Pakistan hospitals. You must be talking about another country, my friend.