A man who fled on his wedding day after seeing that his betrothed had a beard was sentenced to 99 lashes by a tribal council in the Pakistani province of Punjab.
19-year old Dilip Sachdev was expected to get married to 17-year old Vandna Yadav in the city of Patti on September 23.
In conformity with the tradition of the region, the marriage had been arranged years ago by the families and the two had never met.
More than 300 guests were gathered for a grandiose ceremony which went perfectly until the bride arrived… bearing a beard.
As soon as Mr Sachdev saw his future wife for the first time, he immediately started running and fled the scene.
One of his uncles described the scene in an interview with the Karachi Herald.
“He screamed “she’s a freak! A bearded freak!” and started off. We tried to catch him, but he was really running for his life.”
The young man remained on the run for 4 days until he was discovered hiding at the bottom of a public latrine and brought back to his parents.
Both families asked the tribal council to sentence the young man for dishonouring his family and fraud, based on the fact that the dowry money had already been paid when he fled.
The council sided with the plaintiffs and condemned the young man to be flogged 99 times and forced him to accept the marriage.
Arranged marriages are still very common in rural areas of Pakistan and India, and several hundred women flee from such forced unions every year.
However, it is very uncommon for men to try to escape forced marriages. Only 34 such cases have been recorded in Pakistan since 2014.
Dilip Sachdev’s case generated unusual attention in Pakistan, as the 19-year old attracted the sympathy of many young men across the country.
Protests against the judgement took place in several cities of the country Yesterday, as the male population is also questioning the pre-Islamic tradition of arranged unions for the first time in the country’s history.