Forced Marriages & Multiculturalism

// January 31st, 2007 // Blog

I recently watched a BBC Hard Talk interview with Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of Karma Nivana, a S.E Asian women's project. In it, she outlined the very distressing tale of the traumatic events that took place in her youth, the implications of which continue to shape her adult life.

You can watch it here.

It just goes to show that forced marriages are a problem in many cultures, irrespective of religion. Isn't it strange that this inhumane practice is more prevalent in the immigrant communities of the U.K., than the countries from which these people originate?

I do often wonder how a parent can reject a child so completely over a matter such as marriage. I know of several examples from my community where this has happened; not in connection to forced marriages, but rather, the child (usually a daughter) insists on marrying someone that the parents are not pleased with. Now, there may be very good reasons for their disapproval, but to cut off your own blood as if they had died, or perhaps, never even existed? I also notice that the fathers tend to be very stubborn when it comes to disownment; mothers obviously have bigger hearts. In this case, however, Jasvinder's mother seemed to be the heartless one. Normally, i would refrain from speaking badly of another person's close kin, especially the mother, but how can anyone begin to justify her actions? I am amazed that Jasvinder can do so… but as she says, she does it to stop herself going crazy.

The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill was recently being debated in the House of Lords. I think it is a necessary piece of legislation, though it is truely sad that it is needed at all.

Perhaps this is just one pimple on the ugly face of multiculturalism. David Cameron, and his Conservatives are trying to turn this noun into the new, political four-letter word.

Although i feel Davvy-boy is simply jumping on the latest bandwagon, I have to say, i do agree with him on at least one issue (gasp!). Considering that most British Muslims do not consider themselves to be represented by any organisation, he proposes that the government talk to Muslims directly, as individual citizens, rather than as a special, monolithic group via intermediaries such as the Muslim Council of Britain. It's a good idea in theory, though how this will work in practice is anyone's guess; most likely, that includes Cameron himself. So far he's been all mouth and no trousers, so to speak.

As i've said before, it would be most helpful if someone would outline exactly what we're all supposed to have integrated into, before telling us that we've failed at it!

4 Responses to “Forced Marriages & Multiculturalism”

  1. Manas says:

    Tariq Nelson has something to share.

  2. Diganta says:

    You’re correct. In India the problem is mostly in rural areas. It’s a parameter of measuring the real advancement we have.

  3. Daniel says:

    Sometimes I wonder that arranged marriages are not a good idea. Parents trying to find someone who will be compatible with their child’s personality, etc.

    When people choose their own partners sadly most seem to make a hash of it.

  4. AnonyMouse says:

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    While of course forced marriages are part of cultures and not religion – at least not in Islam’s case – it always makes me sad to see people claim that it *is* part of religion. It’s even worse (for me) when Muslims claim that it’s a part of Islam… obviously they did not hear of the Hadith in which the Prophet (SAW) ruled that no marriage is valid without the woman’s consent!

    As for parents choosing their children’s future spouses… I think it depends on the relationship between the parents and the child, and how well the parents know what kind of person would be good for them.
    For example, while I’d let my mom help me in the ‘husband-hunt’, I would NOT let my father do so. Why? Because he doesn’t know me well enough, and because he’d choose someone HE likes whom HE thinks is good, rather than someone I’D feel good with. And, knowing the kind of people my dad likes, we’d be in total opposition.
    (Mind you, he doesn’t know this yet… which makes me feel nervous for the future years when, insha’Allah, I’ll be old enough to be ‘put on the marriage market’, as it were!)

    Re:multiculturalism – I personally think that Canadian Muslims are doing a lot better than UK Muslims are right now, especially with our relationship to the government… there was a brief issue about multiculturalism, but in the end things pretty much returned to normal and nothing negative resulted of it, al-Hamdulillaah.

    Your little sister in Islam,

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