In July, we were talking about how Careem, a taxi app service in Pakistan, is offering customers the option of riding with a “rishta-aunty”, who would join you on your ride and help you find a prospective spouse. Now, we’ve just heard about one Pakistani woman, Nashra Balagamwalla, who certainly won’t be using that service.
Nashra Balagamwalla is a Pakistani designer who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States. The 24-year-old faced the usual kind of pressure to get into an arranged marriage back home, and when her course was near completion and her US visa set to expire, she began designing a board game that reflected her own struggles to escape an arrange marriage, drawing from her own experiences and those of her friends.
In Arranged! you have to do everything you can to avoid the rishta-aunty, and if you land on the same square as her, you could possibly be married off to one of the male suitors dotted around the board. Cards drawn at random tell you what you’re supposed to do next in the game (you want to pursue a career… move four steps), and as Broadly points out, there’s a slight chance that you could marry a suitor of your choice in the game, although it seems unlikely. Nashra says she wanted to make the game as realistic and reflective of Pakistani culture as possible.
She says she’s surprised at how heartening the response to her game has been, and that she’s glad that a number of Pakistani women have reached out to her to discuss the issue and share their own experiences. Of course, she’s also received flak from trolls who says she’s disgracing Pakistani culture and the usual boring things people like that say when women stand up for the things they believe in.
On the game’s Kickstarter page, Balagamwalla says that the game provides the platform to talk about a serious issue (that has social, cultural, economic, legal and religious implications) that can often have extremely long-lasting consequences on the lives of women, in a very very light-hearted way.
You can contribute to the project here.