(cover photo is NOT MINE– sourced from a ‘left foot forward’ article on marriage)
Hi everyone! I hope you are having a great Easter, even if you are revising 😦
I have been meaning to put up this post for a while, but between revising and homework and life in general, I completely forgot!
There is a common misconception between forced marriage and arranged marriages, so I really wanted to make a post about the 2, just because I feel like some people get confused or don’t understand the difference- but that’s really because it isn’t spoken about.
This post sort of links to my culture vs. religion post, in terms of forced marriage being a very common problem in many cultures (especially South-Asian ones) but it has absolutely nothing to do with religion. NOTHING. I really want to make it clear that the Pakistanis that are practising Muslims and are religious are the ones who don’t care about all this crazy culture stuff. The Pakistanis that aren’t that religious tend to be the type of people who get caught up in culture. At least, that’s what I think from what I’ve seen and heard.
Arranged marriage is your own choice. And by this I mean you have expressed an interest with your parent/guardians in going down this route of finding a partner. Or, your parents/guardian/ have expressed an interest in finding a partner for you and you have willingly agreed, and there is an understanding will choose someone that you like, and if you don’t like anyone you meet, then that’s fine. Basically, what usually happens is your parents reach out to family/family friends to see if there are other people looking to get married. If there are, you can find out about about them and see if they sound like “marriage material” to you. If you think they are, they may come over to your house (potential husband/wife and their parents) and you can get to know each other. If by the end of the night you decide this person isn’t for you, then that’s fine. They will go home and probably get a call a couple of days/weeks later and are told that you aren’t ready or some other reason. And even if you see them a bit more, it’s not like you’ve signed a contract with this guy. You can decide months later that they aren’t for you. In this day and age, it is hard for people who aren’t familiar with our culture to understand that this isn’t a horrible and old-fashioned way to get married. A lot of long and happy marriages happen this way, because there is no pressure and it’s all your own choice. Nowadays, like the majority of the population, most British Muslims/Pakistanis tend to find their partners at university or during their jobs but some people who don’t end up doing that choose the arranged marriage route. And there is nothing bad or oppressive about it- it’s literally just another way to meet people.
Forced marriage is not your own choice, your parents will not give you choice of “suitors” and will have already chosen someone for you (for example, sometimes a cousin is chosen). One or both participants are coerced into matrimony without their free consent- men can be forced into marriage as well! Although typically a woman will have a much worse time 😦
WHY DOES FORCED MARRIAGE HAPPEN?
1) Gender inequality. Often (but not always) the girl is forced into a marriage with a man who is a lot older than her. This inequality is a lot to do with the strong cultural beliefs that families have, and the idea that a woman’s place is in the home, and her only purpose in life is to make children.
2)Poverty/ Emergencies. Some families feel they have no choice but to essentially “sell” their daughters, or marry them off so that their daughters have some sort of guaranteed financial security, even if their family doesn’t.
3)Pride/Traditional Cultural beliefs. Forced marriage mainly affects people from south Asia because it is ingrained in many cultures. Some girls are taken away to countries against their will by their family, unaware of marriage plans. Some families rush their daughters into forced marriages to preserve their virginity.
Forced marriage can obviously can so many problems, including rape, abuse, increased risk of death at childbirth, illiteracy, overpopulation in LEDC’s and poor health.
In the UK, early and forced marriage is seen as a criminal offense, and can result in up to 7 years in prison. Sadly, families realize this and take their daughters on “holidays” to their country of origin (basically where they’re from), from which they never return. It is so sad and cruel and yet so common.
So, I hope you found this post interesting and I hope that you learnt something- I think it’s so important to raise awareness about these problems, and I really think parents need to start taking responsibility for the awful things they are forcing their children to do, all for the sake of maintaining pride and a strong cultural belief. These problems are “acknowledged”, but nothing is ever done. I really hope that changes.