Tories propose criminalising forced marriages


by Sunny
22nd February, 2008 at 5:46 am    

I’m publishing the press release because it explains everything

Conservative Party Leader David Cameron today unveiled measures to clamp down on forced marriages. Describing the practice of forced marriages as “utterly bizarre and frankly unacceptable” he said a Conservative Government would consider making them illegal.

Key proposals are:
* The age limit to be raised to 21 for both spouse and sponsor for marriages from abroad.
* Spouses to register before going abroad to marry.
* Potential spouses coming to the UK to take the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test.
* Awareness packs for schools on how to deal with the problem.
* Children’s Services Departments to be given greater role in protecting vulnerable children.


During a visit to Bradford David Cameron will say:

“An important part of that is recognising the powers we already have. Nearly all the methods used to force women into marriage and keep them in it – intimidation, assault, rape, kidnap and murder – are already crimes in themselves. We should be enforcing our laws to stop it from happening and making sure the people behind them are arrested and where necessary locked up.

“But it’s not just about the powers we’ve already got. At the moment, the Forced Marriages Act, which we supported, only makes it possible to pursue civil prosecutions. The argument runs that it is unlikely that victims will come forward if it means pressing criminal charges against their parents. But we shouldn’t close this door – and if the current legislation doesn’t work in ending forced marriages, the Conservative Party would consider making them a criminal offence.

“Where we definitely will act is around the actual marriage phase. The key is to make sure that both parties have agreed to a marriage – and that they are old enough to have made that decision.

“A Conservative Government will increase the minimum age for any spouse coming to Britain, and their British partner, to 21. What’s more, there will be separate, private interviews for both groom and bride. And everyone who comes to live here must have a basic level of English – that way, they’ll be better able to integrate into British society and more aware of their rights.

“It also means local authorities, social services and schools all playing their part in looking out for it – and acting when they suspect it.

“That’s why a Conservative Government would make sure schools were aware of how to deal with the situation when there are children who they suspect will be taken out of the country for forced marriages. We would also classify local authorities as a relevant third party under the 2007 Forced Marriage Act. That way, schools could pass information onto childrens’ services departments and they could then make an application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order on behalf of the child.”


A Conservative Government would take the following ten steps to tackle forced marriages:

Action by the central government:
1. For marriages from abroad, raise the age limit for both spouse and sponsor to 21 years of age. This will help crack down on child brides being brought into the UK.

2. A ‘code of conduct’ must be developed for Entry Clearance Officers and Home Office Officials, which includes separate interviews of the spouse and the sponsor. There should be separate, private interviews for both groom and bride, allowing those who are being forced into marriage to speak freely and openly.

3. A time requirement before those who have been previously married to a spouse from overseas are allowed to bring in another spouse from oversees. This would help to prevent fraudulent marriages, and mistreatment of young wives. There evidence that currently some men who come here on a spousal visa leave their British wives after being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in order to act as the UK sponsor in order to bring over a new wife.

4. A requirement for spouses to register before going abroad to marry. An interview should also be conducted in private prior to registration being granted. If a person admits that they are being forced into marriage, or if there is sufficient suspicion, registration can be denied. Failure register will result in the marriage not being recognised in the UK. They will forfeit the rights of married people in the UK and non-EU citizens will not be able to enter the UK on a spouse’s visa.

Action by individuals:
5. Both spouses must have a basic knowledge of English before they come to the UK. This will help both spouses integrate into British society and be more aware of their rights.

6. Potential spouses coming to the UK should take the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test. The test helps people to improve their English and learn more about life in the UK. This will help spouses integrate into British society and be more aware of their rights.

Action by schools:
7. We will issue schools with awareness packs on how to deal with children who they suspect have been taken, or are likely to be taken, out of the country for forced marriages. With on the ground access, schools are best placed to identify where children are at risk. They will then be able to notify Children’s Services Departments who have a responsibility for child welfare.

8. We will classify Children’s Services Departments (CSDs) as a relevant third party under the 2007 Forced Marriage Act. Schools will be able to pass information on to CSDs and they could then make an application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order – without the court’s permission – on behalf of the child.

9. We will require CSDs to keep a register of children who have been removed from schooling, or who have gone missing. If, after liaising with parents, the CSD has grounds to believe the child will be or has been forced into marriage, they would be able to make an application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order under the powers above.

Future action:
10. We will monitor the impact of the 2007 Act to assess whether we need to consider creating a new criminal offence in the future. The new civil arrangements need time to bed in, but we will carefully monitor the situation and if the current legislation is ineffective then a future Conservative Government would consider criminalising the practice of forced marriages.


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  1. Juggy — on 22nd February, 2008 at 6:07 am  

    Not sure what these measures have to do with forced marriages? Instead it appears another obstacle on immigration. You could quite easily take each of those measures and put them into tackling immigration.

    Does a 20 year old who marries a British Citizen lack basic fundamental rites to be with his or her partner in the UK. These measures will strip them of being with their partners. What exactly has age to do with forced marriages?

    How will taking the Life In The Uk test before you enter the UK, stop forced marriages?

    While i do agree with most measures … i agree with them on the immigration view point, not as a measure to prevent forced marriages.

    I agree with most of the measures, but what has age got to do with Forced marriages?

  2. platinum786 — on 22nd February, 2008 at 9:15 am  

    As noble as the idea might seem, I still don’t see how it prevents forced marriages, it only allows further opportunity to detect forced marriages after they have occurred. It allows people to tell someone it has happened, something that could as easily be done at a local police station. To me this is another token move to win votes and appear concerned.

    The only way to prevent them is to get the community to take responsibility, Children should be aware of their rights (as the Tories propose) and parents should be informed and educated away from this sad state of affairs which is forced marriages.

  3. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 10:28 am  

    so will this cover just the sub continent, or all overseas spouses?
    As for 21, that is ridiculous. You can vote, drink, have sex, but not get married?

    “Potential spouses coming to the UK should take the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test. The test helps people to improve their English and learn more about life in the UK. This will help spouses integrate into British society and be more aware of their rights.”

    Ok, as long as this is practical advice..ie how to use banks, post offices, etc…not simply looking at “culture”…again what has this got to do with forced marriages…

    “We will require CSDs to keep a register of children who have been removed from schooling, or who have gone missing. If, after liaising with parents, the CSD has grounds to believe the child will be or has been forced into marriage, they would be able to make an application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order under the powers above.”

    Would this be blanket use, or used to single out the ethnics?

  4. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 10:42 am  

    what irritates me about this approach is that it is totally one sided..it doesn’t mention a multi facet approach, rather at criminalising..not working with communities…which would obviously be more labour intensive..probably why they don’t want to do it..it’s a lot of pandering..and will only further alienate communities and those vulnerable in it…you need to bring these practices out in to the open not make them dig deeper…when are bloody politicians going to realise this?

  5. Galloise Blonde — on 22nd February, 2008 at 10:49 am  

    Spouses to register before going abroad to marry.

    I’ve said it before, but I think this is a brilliant idea. It doesn’t penalise anyone who does actually want to get married, and it gives an opportunity for contact with authorities before the individual goes abroad, where advice can be given if necessary. It might also have knock-on benefits for the health of elderly grandmothers of teenagers…

    It would be good to have a coordinated strategy in schools too.

  6. Galloise Blonde — on 22nd February, 2008 at 10:51 am  

    PS: they should extend the number the countries the FMU work with (not just south aisa, but afghanistan, iraq etc) and they should apply the FMU’s services to non-citizens as well.

  7. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 10:57 am  

    what about europe? america? australia?

  8. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 10:59 am  

    so what happens if you’re being forced to marry someone from france? or germany?

  9. Galloise Blonde — on 22nd February, 2008 at 11:24 am  

    Can you think of any other countries in the world?

    The FMU have dealt with cases in Eastern Europe. The point is that we have legal agreements and extraidition treaties etc etc with many countries which would, I daresay, include those you refer to and would enable the police forces of both countries to cooperate in the case of a forced marriage or any other crime. We don’t with Afghanistan and Iraq, and other countries. Which is a major issue for us: we have asked the FMU to intervene in a few cases involving those countries and they are unable to do so.

  10. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 11:43 am  

    I understand that, but in order to be equitable in any legislation, this should include all countries, whether it happens there or not. Otherwise it will further alienate certain communities.

  11. sonia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 12:12 pm  

    what are they making illegal which isn’t already?

    (good point for juggy)

    what they are actually proposing are changes to immigration rules about foreign fiances/spouses. ( and the interview thing isn’t a new proposal – it didn’t happen to everyone, but quite often for people who were suspected of bringing over their sister from sylhet etc. as their wife etc.!)

    I wish we could just be straight and more precise about what is being talked about. People can choose to agree or not with the measures – but its hardly ‘criminalising’ “forced marriage”.

    Really what they are trying to do is making more hoops to jump through if you’re going to try and bring over a foreign wife or a husband.

    it’s one thing to come up with a variation of immigration rules, and then it is a separate thing – to talk about rules that apply to citizens. I.e. suggesting that no one can get married abroad without first declaring it when they depart – ( or is that what is being suggested, simply not clear to me) is going to be not that simple now is it? Quite a ‘sweeping’ thing to impose. Obviously again they will have to be more precise about what they actually mean or expect. Does it apply if you’re getting married to a foreigner? Does it apply only if you’re getting married to a foreigner and at some stage want them to come and live with you? what happens if you didn’t register? etc. so on and so forth.

  12. Ravi Naik — on 22nd February, 2008 at 12:15 pm  

    what about europe? america? australia?

    Who says it is only for “ethnics”? But it is not a problem that happens in Western Europe or America, is it?

  13. Ravi Naik — on 22nd February, 2008 at 12:24 pm  

    “As for 21, that is ridiculous. You can vote, drink, have sex, but not get married?”

    Come on, Sofia – marriage is supposed to be a commitment for life – it is far less problematic if you regret voting for the wrong politician, or regret waking up with the wrong person or with a huge hangover the next day.

  14. Galloise Blonde — on 22nd February, 2008 at 12:48 pm  

    If you marry someone abroad, you have to register for citizenship purposes when you get back anyway. So if it was required to be done in advance, it would just speed up the process for people legitimately planning to marrying someone from abroad, and give fair warning to those who didn’t know what was planned. Although I don’t know how many people spontaneously get married abroad on a holiday romance, I should hope there would be some way of working that out.

    sofia, the FCO create relationships between states to allow the FMU to operate with the police, social services, judiciary etc etc. It’s a major diplomatic and logistical commitment, and an excessively time and money-consuming thing to do in order to reassure communities, where in many cases it is unnecessary anyway in Commonwealth or European countries. Meanwhile, we advise a Middle Eastern girl or woman threatened with forced marriage at least once a week and are increasingly frustrated by our inability to help them if they are taken out of the country.

  15. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 2:50 pm  

    Ravi i know it’s a committment, my point being that at 21 you’re an adult..isn’t that so? so why can’t an 18 year old adult choose to marry someone?

  16. sonia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 2:54 pm  

    thanks Galloise. i guess you mean that if people marry abroad they usually when they come back find out about getting it “recognised here” don’t they – is that what you were referring to? ( the ‘citizenship purposes’ thing confused me. as I was also thinking about people who are citizens who go off to get married in barbados etc. ) and as far as i understand it, usually involves having to speak to the superintendent registrar who ‘officiates’ marriages at the local borough, or something of the sort, ( and i dont know what the details and ins and outs are)
    so would be interesting to hear what the tories are actually talking about – in detail.

  17. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 3:04 pm  

    Galloise, I’m not sure if I have totally understood your points..do you want the above proposals to only apply to countries where we do not have extradition treaties or agreements with?

  18. Rumbold — on 22nd February, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

    I am still not convinced about the marriage age being raised to 21- I am not sure that it will make very much difference. Nor do I see how having to know a bit of English will reduce the chances of forced marriage (though it will probably help foreigners into the UK). The registration idea is probably the best, as it allows potential victims to alert the authorities, or at least gives them more of an opportunity.

    As Sofia points out though, this is only half of it. We also need more money and official will for protecting victims of forced marriage, and allowing them to lead safe lives. Further criminalising families will only ever solve part of the problem.

  19. sonia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 5:04 pm  

    good point rumbold – though i think it might have an impact on the arranged marriage market: ( as opposed to just the ‘forced’ ones) many people marry from ‘back home in the indian subcontinent – and some of the ‘arrangees’ definitely don’t speak english – so there are a lot of people who would be affected. of course the question then is do you make them wait in india till they’ve learned english (which could take a bit of time) or let them in and encourage them to take a test after a certain amount of time. After all, immersion is pretty critical to be able to master a language, one could argue. So lots to think about. Of course some might say this is a welcome move to discourage parents marrying their kids off to village types who dont know any english, and find them someone from the city whose more likely to have more english etc. so on and so forth.

  20. sonia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 5:04 pm  

    p.s. rumbold – no comments about nanny states?

  21. sonia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 5:05 pm  

    of course, an anti-arranged marriage campaign is what you really need but clearly no one wants to go there.

  22. Rumbold — on 22nd February, 2008 at 5:17 pm  

    Sonia:

    “Of course the question then is do you make them wait in india till they’ve learned english (which could take a bit of time) or let them in and encourage them to take a test after a certain amount of time.”

    I agree that those who know the language have a better chance of prospering, but I am not sure how it would reduce forced marriage. Anyone can learn a bit of English, at least enough to pass a basic test. All you need are a few stock phrases:

    - “I know my rights.”
    - “That Ronaldo eh? Good player but what a diver.”
    - “Eng-ger-land!”
    - “Kebab and chips please mate.”
    - “Bloody Archbishop of Canterbury.”

    Seriously though, I am not sure how it would prevent forced marriage.

    “P.s. rumbold – no comments about nanny states?”

    My usual libertarianism is being overriden by my desire to stamp out these sort of things. I don’t believe that more laws are necessarily the answer, but I do think that some extra money would go a long way. And it would be just a drop in the ocean compared to what the state wastes.

    “Of course, an anti-arranged marriage campaign is what you really need but clearly no one wants to go there.”

    The culture of arranged marriages does of course strengthen the chance of forced marriages, but there are plenty of arranged marriages which are not forced, so I am not sure that it is fair to target them.

  23. Sofia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 5:19 pm  

    anti-arranged marriage campaign is what you really need

    Sonia, there are plenty of ppl who are happy with this type of marriage…why have a campaign against it..surely it’s about freedom of choice?

  24. Sajn — on 22nd February, 2008 at 11:12 pm  

    What happens if you meet and marry someone whilst abroad but didn’t register that you were going to get married before you left the UK?

  25. Ravi Naik — on 23rd February, 2008 at 10:47 am  

    “of course, an anti-arranged marriage campaign is what you really need but clearly no one wants to go there.”

    There is nothing wrong with arranged marriages – it is like any other dating service. The problem is being forced to marry someone against their will.

    I think Cameron’s ideas are very sound, including increasing the age to 21 and ensuring people understand English at a basic level. These would probably not decrease the number of forced marriages, but certainly would allow someone to escape one if necessary.

    I think bringing someone to this country with little knowledge of the customs, freedoms or way of life can create a situation of dependency and abuse. I always wonder if that is the reason why some Asian parents prefer to arrange someone from the subcontinent than a British 2nd gen, who probably shares the same British/Indian culture and values.

  26. Boyo — on 23rd February, 2008 at 9:00 pm  

    More to the point, will this help those teenage girls who don’t come back to school after the summer holidays?

  27. Jai — on 24th February, 2008 at 12:01 pm  

    I think bringing someone to this country with little knowledge of the customs, freedoms or way of life can create a situation of dependency and abuse. I always wonder if that is the reason why some Asian parents prefer to arrange someone from the subcontinent than a British 2nd gen, who probably shares the same British/Indian culture and values.

    Yes. In relation to getting UK-born sons hitched to Indian-born girls (I have had no exposure to the reverse and am therefore not qualified to comment on that), it’s an attempt to negate or “control” the perceived negative influences that being from the West supposedly has on their son, whilst simultaneously enabling them to avoid having to deal with what they regard as negative attitudes and behaviours prevalent amongst “overly Westernised” UK-born Indian girls.

    If the parents are particularly conservative, they also often view the girl from India as having more in common with them culturally and therefore a better “fit” with the family (and with how they ideally want their son to be, if not necessarily with how he is in reality) than someone from the West. There is a tendency to regard such girls as being more docile/flexible/traditional/submissive and easier to “control” too. (If you’ve seen the Hindi film “Vivah” or some of the “good girls” in recent Indian TV serials, that’s the stereotype they’re aiming for).

    The reality, of course, is that a lot of this is false received wisdom, based on a great deal of erroneous assumptions and preconceptions, and often turns out to be wildly inaccurate.

    I also think that, in some cases, if the parents regard their own UK-born daughter(s) as being wayward, or they don’t have any daughters at all, bringing a so-called “good girl” from the subcontinent into the family is viewed by them as gaining “the daughter they always wanted but never had”.

    However, there are some good-natured parents who are well aware of the risk of girls on this situation becoming very isolated and lonely, so they will not want to subject any Indian-born bahus to that kind of life.

    All of this does depend on what the parents’ own social/familial circles are like and the peer pressure they are subjected to, and whether their own objectivity, common sense, and compassion towards their son can outweigh their own agendas, fears and negative attitudes.

  28. Jai — on 24th February, 2008 at 12:36 pm  

    it’s an attempt to negate or “control” the perceived negative influences that being from the West supposedly has on their son,

    Just to extrapolate that, Ravi, I guess it’s sometimes also a way for parents to attempt to control their (allegedly wayward/”disobedient”) son via their daughter-in-law.

    Presumably the same logic applies in some cases where UK-born girls are hitched to subcontinent-born guys.

  29. sonia — on 24th February, 2008 at 3:22 pm  

    rumbold – just a point – if they are talking about making people pass the Life in the UK Citizenship test – that’s not actually just a ‘bit of english’. when i went to take the test last june, lots of people were failing it – who had perfectly adequate english – certainly enough to allow them to have been working in the UK for a good few years. Perhaps you are not familiar with the test, seeing as you’ve not had to take it yourself. Why i could have failed it easily myself, had it not been for my photographic memory and the ability to remember lots of random facts, (for a few hours!) like what the percentage of singe parents are in england and wales, etc.

    but in any case, as you say, im still not sure how its going to reduce forced marriage, unless the implication is its harder to force people who speak english into marriage, but the very fact that british asians are being forced into it by their parents – and they surely are able to speak english, (know their rights in theory) etc. etc. The focus seems to be on the ‘foreign’ spouse forced into marriage – and again, i can understand people thinking aha! we shall limit the marriageable pool of potential dumb villagers – but so what? the fact is that british parents are forcing british kids into marriage – so where the english comes in, in this argument, i can’t quite see.

  30. sonia — on 24th February, 2008 at 3:32 pm  

    of course the abuse of the person coming in, is a significant matter, but it isn’t going to reduce british kids being forced into marriages in itself, or i can’t see how it is. The parents are the ones doing the forcing, so any ‘measures’ needs to take them into account.

    plus parents can always start marrying their kids forcibly to the other like minded parents kids here – (dunno, keep it all in bradford or something) if the options of the indian village are closed to them. So it doesn’t really address the source of the problem, in my opinion. Source of the problem is the parents see the family as the ‘firm’, and themselves as the Executive Directors, that’s the problems. And marriage as an organisational matter, not one for the individual to sort out, ( arranged or otherwise). Or let me put it more accurately, what is problematic about the kinds of arranged marriages i am talking about – is not that, as ravi points out, they are some kind of dating service, which an arranged marriage can be, but rather that it is arranged by the parents, for the desires of the parents, for the perceived benefits to the parents/family unit. so it is not the fact of the marriage being ‘arranged’ so much – but who it is arranged by. An individual can go out and arrange their own marriage, with the support of their family. that is quite clearly possible and happens increasingly. however, let us not pretend there is a big problem with many parents still seeing marriage as something between families, for them to arrange with the other ‘side’ – where the respective kids are just vehicles to achieve the means. Not the focus. This is where the problem lies.

  31. sonia — on 24th February, 2008 at 3:33 pm  

    ..”there is NOT a big problem”..i meant to say

  32. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 10:25 am  

    Sonia:

    “If they are talking about making people pass the Life in the UK Citizenship test – that’s not actually just a ‘bit of english’. when i went to take the test last june, lots of people were failing it – who had perfectly adequate english – certainly enough to allow them to have been working in the UK for a good few years. Perhaps you are not familiar with the test, seeing as you’ve not had to take it yourself.”

    No, I am not familar with the test. I do think that English helps people find their way in this country better. Good to hear that you passed (if you nearly failed, I struggle to understand how many others can pass it).

    “Source of the problem is the parents see the family as the ‘firm’, and themselves as the Executive Directors, that’s the problems.”

    I agree, but I still don’t think that arranged marriages are by definition bad, providing that is what all parties actually want. Something like Shaadi.com is a good example; there will be plenty of arranged marriages as a result, but there are unlikely to be any forced marriages.

  33. Sofia — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:00 am  

    I do think there are lots of families out there who have a weird concept of marriage..i know plenty of them..but it’s not fair to assume that this is common…the success of websites such as shaadi dot com..is because families are realising that the process of finding the suitable boy/girl, is now moving on…

  34. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:36 am  

    So people seem to think legislation that affects all british citizens considering marriage is not affecting people’s freedom of choice, but social campaigns highlighting the dangers of familial pressure to enter arranged marriages are? (which is what i was suggesting, i was not talking about any kind of legislation) Funny choice. if you are having your “own” arranged marriage, then some social campaign highlighting the issues of families pressuring hteir kids into an arranged marriage isn’t going to affect you. Changes Tories are suggesting presumably will affect everyone who gets married – why should that be?

    “it’s not fair to assume its common” – i too am going by my experience of asian communities Sofia – so it is hardly a case of ‘fair’ or unfair – clearly we have been moving in different circles. I am not suggesting that yOu are being unfair in your observations, so perhaps you could kindly refrain from similar judgements on my observations. I’m hardly an ‘outsider’ when it comes to asian families and arranged marriages – like i said, clearly we have different experiences.

  35. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:40 am  

    Sonia:

    There’s nothing wrong in a campaign to highlight that some British Asians are put under pressure to marry. But what Sofia and I were saying was that not all arranged marriages are the result of such pressure.

  36. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:45 am  

    neither was i saying that they “all” were. but i am talking about the significant social problem of families putting pressure on their children to enter arranged marriages, in familes from the indian subcontinent- and the wider social context within which that happens. i’ve already said to sofia that i am talking about this from the point of view of my own observations, and i can clearly see others are too. I am not suggesting that other people’s points of view aren’t valid, but it be useful if people recognised the social forces from where these things ‘spring’.

  37. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:48 am  

    Of course people are going to be very defensive – ‘ooh my arranged marriage’ wasn’t due to pressure. Well good for YOU then! You’ve got a lucky family background then. No one wants to criticise you or Sort you, or your family out. But the issue is other people who weren’t so lucky.

  38. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:56 am  

    Sonia:

    “Neither was i saying that they “all” were. but i am talking about the significant social problem of families putting pressure on their children to enter arranged marriages, in familes from the indian subcontinent- and the wider social context within which that happens.”

    I agree, and a number of times subtle pressure can morph into heavy pressure, which turns into a forced marriage. But the reason for saying that there are arranged marriages which are perefectly fine is to show that it is not simply the arranging of the marriage which can cause problems, but other factors as well.

  39. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:05 pm  

    Well Rumbold that is your opinion. Personally i will go out on a limb and say that the practice of finding a mate from amongst a very limited range of ‘suitabile’ types -(considered as such by family and community, entered willingly or not) definitely contributes to – in the indian community – a backlash against those who do not conform to those strict standards. In some cases the backlash isn’t that big, and parents get over it, and in some unfortunate cases it is. And the fact that all the parent’s friends kids have happily gone into marriages with suitable types – usually festers in the parents mind and is often brought up, but Auntie Naina’s kids were fine with it! Why can’t you be like them! Now if you (and others) don’t want to look at wider societal pressures – (that shape the context within which a small no. of situations are becoming violent and problematic )- or can’t -without taking it personally, and feeling ‘blamed’ well frankly that’s your business.

  40. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:07 pm  

    and the generation of people who have all conformed, continues to influence the younger generation. one only has to go and look at any discussion board where kids are talking about dating people of a different ‘jat’ and see the kinds of responses floating around. And you all think this doesn’t contribute widely to the problem of forced marriages??!

  41. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:10 pm  

    Sonia:

    I really do agree with you that the culture of marrying off one’s children increases the risk of forced marriages/’honour’ killings and that even successful arranged marriages may help to re-inforce streotypes of conforming within the community. The question is though how does the media/government/voluntary organisations reduce the pressure to conform, without criminalising those marriages which are perfectly legal (i.e. those marriages which have taken place without force or dubious pressure)?

  42. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:14 pm  

    Rumbold the reason why i am going on about this at great length is to point out how deep-seated the issues are and how they are related to societal norms and what most people are doing. SO it is absolutely a very valid question the way you put it: “the question is though how does the media/government/voluntary organisations reduce the pressure to conform, without criminalising those marriages which are perfectly legal (i.e. those marriages which have taken place without force or dubious pressure)?

    Quite, and i don’t think there is an easy answer at all, because what i am saying is there are deep-seated social attitudes that need to change. the ‘government’ certainly can’t do that, can it? no one ‘body’ can do that, and it doesn’t happen quickly. especially when most people will refuse to look into the social dynamics that cause these issues in the first place because they are so defensive!

    [i don't know what 'criminilising' a marriage actually means - unless someone says they were forced into a marriage - and then you prosecute - who?]

  43. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:16 pm  

    And i was certainly never suggesting that anyone’s ‘arranged marriage’ be ‘criminalised’ – whatever the hell that means in reality, again.

  44. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:21 pm  

    Sonia:

    “Quite, and i don’t think there is an easy answer at all, because what i am saying is there are deep-seated social attitudes that need to change. the ‘government’ certainly can’t do that, can it? no one ‘body’ can do that, and it doesn’t happen quickly. especially when most people will refuse to look into the social dynamics that cause these issues in the first place because they are so defensive!”

    Which was why I thought that the above story was worth posting on, because it showed that some people were angry about the killing.

    “And i was certainly never suggesting that anyone’s ‘arranged marriage’ be ‘criminalised’ – whatever the hell that means in reality, again.”

    There is pressure for forced marriage to become a criminal offence. I suppose it would be the parents/fixers who are prosecuted, though like you, I am slightly sceptical about how it would work.

    Sorry, I did not mean to suggest that you wantd to criminalise arrange marriages, I was just posing the question about how to reduce the need to conform.

  45. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:26 pm  

    no external ‘body’ can reduce the pressure to conform – unfortunately rumbold, because the reason people conform is because of social norms, and they want to keep their families and communities happy, and do not want to be socially stigmatized. So i can’t see what ‘law’ is going to change that, unfortunately, that doesn’t change unless enough individuals in those social situation make up their mind they can’t be stuffed and slowly norms change. what sorts of things speed up those changes? people talking openly about these things is one good place to start. Denying there are any ‘problems’ is the hardest thing to work against. we have already discussed ideas on what vol orgs and funding could be used for up the thread, what i was pointing to is that is all very well and good, but everyone in society has a wider role to play.

    how so? next time mrs. rahman or mrs. patel complains their son/daughter wants to marry/date a ‘gora/non-jat person/non-suitable type, don’t join in the bitching and competitive ‘oh MY Son/daughter, good little person they are, married so and so {eminently suitable person}. Perhaps we need an updated goodness gracious me sketch.

    “you’re gay, what ! why couldn’t you at least date an indian man”

  46. Sofia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:29 pm  

    they already did that sketch

  47. Sofia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:31 pm  

    Sonia..i was not judging your comments…jesus woman you need to chill out

  48. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:44 pm  

    “My son is a lesbian.”

  49. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:44 pm  

    My own sister is a good example Rumbold, if you are actually serious about listening to some micro-social detail, (which may i add, is significant in trying to understand social dynamics –> problems) she – has always been the ‘good child’ and conformed – out of all our sisters ( and i have 4 of them – a good case study of asian +muslim parents seeking to influence their children, and the varied outcomes) – happily decided to go for the ‘suitable’ marriage, wanted to keep mummy and daddy happy, met lots of rishta aunties ( do you know what they are or do you want me to explain) while she was here at med school (oh so suitable! a doctor! and from back home as well, not like these corrupt girls here) got married to a good suitable bengali british asian fellow. all is well. mummy daddy very happy ( and they weren’t even on the scene, trust in rishta aunties so great). Other daughters – not so ‘suitable’ marriages, one to non bengali hindu boy ( caused great chaos! hai hai! how could this be!) one to a bengali muslim boy ( less chaos, but still substantial, wrong class, etc.) and one to non-subcontinental, non-religion person ( least amount of chaos, perhaps because i am the youngest and they’d run out of steam by then.) INteresting, that even in situations where there is minimal parental pressure, ugly ‘community pressures’ can rear their head. so back to point about my suitably married sister, now embroiled in the asian community in brummieland, had been busy telling me over the years, ‘hai hai! so and so married a gora! oh my GOd!’ and echoing other ‘community aunties’ whose training she seemed to be following. then her own sister gets married to a gora, so what can she do now? tries to keep as quiet as she can about it, that’s what. tries to not have topic brought up by “community aunties” when they keep suggesting why lets find your sister a suitable man! very difficult for poor sister, indeed, quite a social dilemma. Perhaps she, out of all of us, feels the most pressure to keep the ‘community’ happy, seeing as what ‘her community’ thinks was always very important to her, and she really doesn’t want that kind of social disapproval and ‘loss of social standing’ from the senior community ‘aunties’.

    Bit of a ramble for you Rumbold, but perhaps you can see what i’m getting at. (if you need explaining any of the ‘lingo’ pls shout) All these people, feeling embarrassed their family members haven’t been as good and conforming as they themselves have been – not even necessarily because they themselves think its such a terrible thing – but why what will aUNTIE naina say! what will the community say! now i cannot show my face so much!

  50. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 12:53 pm  

    Sonia:

    Very interesting example. I am sorry that some in your family have treated you that way. It is notable that even within families there can be major differences over attitudes to arranged marriages. You are right of course that it is within the ‘community’ itself that change needs to happen; laws will only do so much (more important for government is to keep funding those groups that help victims, and ensure police protection). I suppose that less strong indivduals than yourself might well crack under the pressure and end up with an arranged marriage even if they do not really want one. A sort of semi-forced marriage if you will.

    Rishta aunties are presume are matchmaking aunties.

  51. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 1:09 pm  

    No rumbold, don’t be sorry – you didn’t get what i was on about at all if that’s what you think, that ‘my family’ treated me that way. i am very lucky, that my family didn’t mind me getting married to a “gora” didnt even make a fuss when i made the announcement etc. My point is that I am lucky, that my family, despite being aware of the pressures they didn’t pass the buck down to me. Perhaps because of that, i do feel responsible for the social implications they face. My sister i gave as an example because what the ‘community’ thinks is very important to her – and is a big factor in her life. Because of my choices, that directly ( it shouldn’t do) impacts on her ‘social’ standing in that community – that was my point. Now luckily again, for me, my sister supported me – but again, i am conscious of the ramifications on her life.

    So don’t feel sorry for me Rumbold! i am one very lucky girl. and i dont give a damn about community pressures, but my family does, so hence my observations.

  52. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 1:12 pm  

    yes :-) you’re up with the lingo. and good points in the rest of your comment.

  53. douglas clark — on 25th February, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    Sonia,

    I think maybe that a lot of these controlling attitudes are probably on a sort of ‘half-life’. In the sense that they will be diluted, probably over a few generations. You are clearly not going to pass these ideas onto your kids, and I’d assume that you are not alone in what you say, so the social pressure will, eventually, lessen.

    Hopefully.

  54. Ravi Naik — on 25th February, 2008 at 1:57 pm  

    “the question is though how does the media/government/voluntary organisations reduce the pressure to conform, without criminalising those marriages which are perfectly legal (i.e. those marriages which have taken place without force or dubious pressure)?”

    I am not entirely convinced that marrying someone for the benefit of the family/community is bad by itself, and I would not want the government involved in that (am I becoming a libertarian now???) – several “love” marriages go sour as well.

    I am not sure what is the immigration law in regards to marrying someone from abroad. But one solution to minimise this problem is to make it harder for Asians in Britain to find “suitable” partners from the subcontinent. 2nd and 3rd gen are far more exposed to diversity, and more willing to reach out to other communities… and I would think less likely to perpetuate insularity and bigotry to the next generation.

  55. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 3:48 pm  

    of course if someone wants to marry “for their family” they are at liberty to do so, i don’t think anyone was suggetiing their liberty to do so should be taken away.

  56. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 3:51 pm  

    after all, if someone wants to have a ‘marriage of convenience’ – why would anyone stop them? its their life after all. the whole point is that individuals should be able to make the choice to marry, or not, for whatever reasons they have. what ive been talking about are the wider social dynamics that contribute to the constraints/pressures brought to bear on individuals, and the kinds of ‘social and emotional blackmail’ tricks used as part of this.

  57. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 3:51 pm  

    it’s not about opposing ‘arranged’ or ‘love’ marriage – that seems to be such an Indian way of looking at things.

  58. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 3:53 pm  

    yes hopefully douglas, but im not convinced that will happen by itself. there are lots more people escaping the ‘control’ but the ‘core’ seems to manage to still be pretty controlling, many many generations down..

  59. Ravi Naik — on 25th February, 2008 at 4:53 pm  

    “it’s not about opposing ‘arranged’ or ‘love’ marriage – that seems to be such an Indian way of looking at things.”

    #21?

  60. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 8:11 pm  

    perhaps you are confused Ravi, let me clarify: i meant in seeing a polarity between two choices – one, something called ‘arranged’ marriage , and the other, something seeing called ‘love marriage’. plenty of people in real life settle for all sorts of things in between.

    and in no. 21, perhaps you see my one-liner to mean i would have the government put a stop to ‘arranged marriages’. what a strange extrapolation – i would never be in favour of something so strange. in my view that would be talking honestly and openly about the huge negativities ( that i perceive and have gone about at great length here) of having arranged marriages that are all about the family, that i see as the norm in the indian subcontinent. so yes, a critique of the ‘standard’ arranged marriage, is what i am talking about.

  61. sonia — on 25th February, 2008 at 8:13 pm  

    corrections…”i meant in my comment no.57 seeing a polarity”

    and

    ..”something called ‘love marriage’” { take out the ‘seeing’ i don’t know where that came from}

  62. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

    Sonia:

    I thought that your sister heartily disapproved, which was why I was sorry for you. My mistake.

    “You’re up with the lingo. and good points in the rest of your comment.”

    Safe, innit.

  63. Sajn — on 25th February, 2008 at 11:39 pm  

    If only they had outlawed arranged marriages before I got hitched………..

  64. Ravi Naik — on 26th February, 2008 at 2:41 am  

    perhaps you are confused Ravi, let me clarify: i meant in seeing a polarity between two choices – one, something called ‘arranged’ marriage , and the other, something seeing called ‘love marriage’. plenty of people in real life settle for all sorts of things in between.

    Well, from the point of the view of this discussion and the terms used in the subcontinent, the term “love marriage” is used in contrast to “arranged marriage”. I see your point, though.

    “and in no. 21, perhaps you see my one-liner to mean i would have the government put a stop to ‘arranged marriages’. what a strange extrapolation “

    No, I didn’t extrapolate that. But you clearly said in #21 that you believed that arranged marriages are a problem, and I thought that conflicted with #57. I also note a tone of disapproval of your sister in #49 by calling her the good girl who did everything to please her parents and community. That sort of struck a chord, as I have several siblings and I am the eldest. My two younger siblings have always complained that I am conformist, and indeed they are right. I guess it comes on two things: a) you feel like you need to do the right thing to serve as an example to the younger siblings, and b) your parents are far more strict with the eldest than with the youngest.

  65. Ashik — on 26th February, 2008 at 8:55 pm  

    Showing that two parties in a marriage intend to live together and that marriage is subsisting is a subjective test. For example, I know many Dhakaiya Bengalis involved in sham marriages for money. It’s a business transaction for these ppl. It is socially accepted amongst that ethnic group. Perhaps the qualifying period before receiving ILR should be 5 years and not two?

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