- POSTED: 19 Sep 2013 15:51
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Women doctors are are highly sought after as brides in Pakistan -- they are considered to have the qualities of both a working woman and a housewife, in addition to the status that comes with being a qualified medical professional. However, there is a downside...
PAKISTAN: Dr Henna Pervaiz is a top student from King Edward Medical College in Lahore, one of the best medical colleges in Pakistan. But now the field of medicine is -- for her -- limited to these books that she cannot even read in peace as she has to take care of her children.
Dr Noreen Farooq, director of student affairs at FMH College of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "They come here, they are very enthusiastic. But as soon as they get married, somehow something happens. Maybe its the family pressure or the in-laws, and we found out that they are not practising anymore."
In Pakistan, getting married to a doctor is every man's dream.
Doctor brides are seen as the perfect mix of "working woman" plus housewife. But more often than not, they end up leaving the profession to take care of the family, and are resentful for it.
Dr Pervaiz said: "When I go to a hospital for a general check up or for my kids, I just want to stay there. I don't want to come back home and do all the cooking and cleaning. I just want to go and practice medicine and take care of patients."
Qualified women doctors are ending their careers prematurely -- and at an alarming rate. It is a story that has been repeated in almost every household in Pakistan.
Nafees Saeed, the mother of a doctor, said: "In our times, the upbringing and education of a girl was important but now everyone wants their daughter to be a doctor and even their to-be-daughter-in-laws to be doctor as it's in demand."
It used to be that the perfect bride had to be tall, have fair complexion, a charming personality, and come from a good family. Now, she will either need an MBBS degree or be a qualified dental surgeon.
Dr Hira Hashimi, a dentist, said: It's a social status kind of thing -- that people present their daughter-in-law as a doctor. But at the end, if they only want a doctor to make food for them or the family, then I think they shouldn't get a 'doctor girl'."
Dr Hira remains a practising dentist, but she is still not married.
There are many more women than men enrolled in Pakistan's medical colleges, with the ratio roughly at 70 to 30. This means Pakistan is likely to lose up to 70 per cent of its doctors after marriage, creating a shortfall in the industry.
Some said the solution is to have medical students serve a bond -- to practice for a minimum period to time, so their training will not be wasted.
Dr Farooq added: "There is nothing being done to close this gap. There should be a bond period for both males and females so that they will work for at least two years."
Medical experts have even suggested that Pakistan set a quota for the intake of women into medical colleges -- which will reduce loss to the profession when they eventually stop practising.
More than that, society will have to realise that doctor brides may bring a family status, but a medical degree is not a qualification for a better family life.