In Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, she talks about how a room of a woman’s own was so important to her success as a writer and as a woman. She talks about one particular topic that I will extend on:
Once more I looked up Women, found “position of,” and turned to the pages indicated. “Wife-beating,” I read, “was a recognized right of man, and was practiced without shame by high as well as low. . . . Similarly,” the historian goes on, “the daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parents’ choice was liable to be locked up, beaten and flung about the room, without any shock being inflicted on public opinion. Marriage was not an affair of personal affection, but of family avarice, particularly in the ‘chivalrous’ upper classes. . . . Betrothal often took place while one or both of the parties was in the cradle, and marriage when they were scarcely out of the nurses’ charge.” This was about 1470, soon after Chaucer’s time. (DeShazer 35).
In this video, a woman who was forced into marriage, merely at 16 years of age, escaped and was living in a safe house. Although it is not too recent, it is a perfect example of what Woolf stated in the above quote. In order for a woman to have choices, as Zahida Minhas tried to achieve, they had to go through running away. The custom of arranged marriage and an inability to have a place of one’s own, was the difference between a free woman and a dead woman; death didn’t always mean physical death, but an internal death of choice and freedom.