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Thin line between arranged and forced


by Sunny on 16th March, 2006 at 6:01 am    

posterA national drive to raise awareness of forced marriages launches today. A publicity campaign is to follow. We all agree (I hope!) that it’s a stupid practice that will die a quick death.

Note that the FMU held a consultation last year on whether to ban forced marriages. In chapter two it discusses points for and against banning. Through lack of publicity and because the useless community ‘leaders’ it was sent to didn’t really bother doing anything substantial with it, the response was poor. One email I received said something like “We know forced marriages hardly take place in our community but here is the document anyway, do what you will.” Head. In. Sand.

These silly community groups against banning this practice annoy me off to be honest. Yes, it’s intrusive. Some parents might get arrested. Isn’t that the whole point? “Will drive the practice underground,” they say! Are these social workers intentionall stupid or infected by some PC bug?
You may also want to read this.



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54 Comments   |  


  1. kulvinder — on 16th March, 2006 at 9:27 am  

    Any law WILL drive it underground as stupid social workers and police try to make generic case X ‘fit’ into the law to prosecute.

    Im worried at the statist attitude you’re begining to display :( educate the people if you want but ffs we have enough intrusive laws without the dickhead police getting more.

  2. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 10:26 am  

    I pretty much would go along with whatever Southall Sisters and other activist groups say on this. In fact, I would say that any consultation on legislation be weighted towards consulting with women, especially victims. ‘Community Leaders’ should be consulted secondarily, after proposals are made. They are mostly more concerned with ‘identity politics’ and other peripheral issues. Although I did read somewhere that one of the Southall Sisters was opposed to legislation - she just said that existing law has to be enforced without prejudice as it is, and legislation would inhibit potential victims from coming forward out of genuine conflicted fears of people being prosecuted.

  3. David T — on 16th March, 2006 at 10:37 am  

    I am not sure what precisely is to be criminalised which is not criminal already.

    Are we talking about emotional or financial pressure?

    Because kidnapping somebody is, I believe, already a criminal offence.

  4. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 11:07 am  

    That’s the problem Mr T.

    It would be good to see a broad outline of what the proposed legislation would contain.

    In general terms, it seems like a good idea - a drawing of a line in the sand. In practical terms it might be tricky. Would it not be possible to have as an aggavated offence, for example, kidnapping with intent to procure a forced marriage, something like that? As an addendum to existing legislation? (I am not a lawyer so just speculating)

  5. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 11:08 am  

    Like how GBH with a racist intent is aggravated assault, something along those lines?

  6. raz — on 16th March, 2006 at 11:17 am  

    Emotional pressure to have an arranged marriage is far more common than physically ‘forced’ marriages and affects males just as much as females. I don’t see how you could possibly legislate against it though. The boy/girl normally ends up giving consent (albeit against their own feelings) and has an unhappy marriage, culminating in divorce a few years later. And then the parents wonder what went wrong…. I’ve seen this scenario play out so many times.

  7. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 11:25 am  

    How do you legislate against emotional blackmail though? That’s the problem.

    I personally would love to see parents in the dock, in the news, shamed and convicted for such offences, but that already happens, doesnt it? What are the conviction rates for offences associated with the problem?

    Ultimately it will only be defeated when the ‘pindu’ mentality starts to die out. That is happening already amongst second and third generation people. But there is still a strata of society that clings to it. And they just cant shake off this ‘pindu’ and ‘izzat’ culture.

    Relating in broader terms to another recent thread on PP, the heavy marriage traffic between UK desi kids and fob’s from uneducated backgrounds exacerbates this problem.

    Culture and mentality has to change from within. In the meantime, give activists, shelters, lawyers the funding and support to attack at grassroots where it arises. If legislation helps, go for it. Would be good to see proposals though.

  8. raz — on 16th March, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    I do think we need to be careful about generalisations concerning ‘foriegn’ versus ‘british’ spouses. Many of the arranged marriages that I’ve seen go wrong involved both boy and girl being British born. Conversely, I’ve seen many marriages to a girl from ‘back home’ work out. Its not always black and white.

  9. Petals — on 16th March, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    After flicking through your view, I’d just like to add that people seem to forget the power of emotional balckmail.
    Perhaps legislations will have relatively little impact.

    Theres so much involved here including family honour and reputation of family in the community that the change as rightly mentioned above needs to be within.
    Culture and mentality will only change if communities change.
    Well its gonna be a very long process.

  10. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

    raz

    Of course you are right about making generalisations. I have mates who married from back home and are happy and in love. But there are some trends that are discernible.

    It comes down to activism. I think that is the best thing that can work. Grassroots support whilst perhaps making forced marriage an aggravated offence under existing legislation.

    petals, it will be a long process, but you can push change in a direction with official sanction, funding, awareness campaigns, funding support networks and activists. The other thing is that it’s not the norm, even if it is a persistent problem. People like you, me, raz, sunny etc - our attitudes are not like this and it’s important to recognise that whilst making those who engage in this face up to these issues.

  11. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 12:40 pm  

    This (warning, enormous pdf) has a lot of info on community perceptions of forced marriages, and as Jay says, the mentality is changing: however the demographics suggest there will be a rise in the crime as so many youngsters reach marriageable age.

    As Jay also says, shame is also an issue: so, I had an idea (bearing in mind I am no expert and represent noone, just my lurking self) that an anti-forced marriage law could be combined with a sex-trafficking law, to make an equivalence between the actions. The shame of being convicted for kidnapping would be nothing next to the shame of being convicted for something allied to prostitution. Is this anything like a reasonable idea?

  12. Jai — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:03 pm  

    =>”an anti-forced marriage law could be combined with a sex-trafficking law, to make an equivalence between the actions.”

    This has occurred to me too. Let’s be completely honest here: If a woman is forced into marriage with a man she doesn’t want to be with, then — apart from the obvious psychological impact & trauma of having to spend the rest of her life with the guy — the fact that she will be expected to have sex with the man on her wedding night is almost like a form of emotionally-blackmailed consent to rape (even if the woman grudgingly submits to sleeping with the guy due to the various dynamics & pressures involved).

    The reality of this entire scenario becomes worse and worse the more you consider the actual details, both emotional and physical.

  13. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

    Galloise Blonde

    I am up for considering anything! I think that the main advantage of a strong legislative stance will be to provide that line in the sand, to be able to state categorically and symbolically that this will not be tolerated.

    As I said, this would need to be undertaken in consultation with frontline activists and others involved in the phenomenon, NOT in the first instance with ‘community representatives’.

    A couple of drawbacks as I see it though. One is that law made for reasons of symbolism can often be a bad law. Two, I am mindful of the arguments of those who say that the extra pressure of the legislation would actually have a deterrent effect on vulnerable women and men who would have the prospect of their parents being charged with this from coming forward.

    I think that making forced marriage an aggravated factor to other existing offences may:

    (a) Draw the neccessary line in the sand symbolically

    (b) Be a better solution than a cover-all crime that could prove tricky to define and even too heavy handed.

    Ally this with a focussed, relentless campaign of grassroots activism, locally attuned policing (regional police forces with their own units specifically detailed to deal with this - recruiting from local communties with cultural and ethnic knowledge - at schools making girls and boys know who to contact in cases when they are at risk) and widespread dissemination, by trial and example and propaganda, to let people know that this is not going to be tolerated, get it into peoples heads that this will not be allowed to pass, on broadcast media (especially the Asian language radio stations) in community newspapers - if neccessary in alliance with religious bodies (because we have to, but non-negotiably, without discussion or allowance to ‘ Ieave it in our hands’ ) - this kind of strategy I believe may start to make headway on this issue.

  14. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Galloise Blonde

    But your suggestion, as Jai says, is definitely worth putting on the table. I would like to hear from the activists and their opinion on it. It would be great if someone associated with one of the activist bodies or with the FMU could join the discussion.

  15. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:30 pm  

    Hi Jai. I’m glad I’m not alone in this idea: aside from the trauma of repeated, sanctioned rape, a woman also has the possible burden of bearing children too, which inevitably and irrevocably tie her to this guy. (Cuts both ways of course, don’t want to diminish the male experience).

    The downside of course would be that any girl wanting to convict her parents of selling her as a prostitute/uterus would need ovaries of steel. (Although the public impact would be astounding.)

    On the other hand, the current crimes seem to me to emphasise the passive sides of the equation: kidnapping, unlawful detention etc. not the intent. They really don’t capture the seriousness. If I had a teenager and dragged her home from a dodgy rave (or whatever kids do these days) and grounded her that’s technically kidnapping, and unlawful detention, I guess.

    But this is different (from the Scotsman, reg. req)

    “The night of the wedding we were supposed to have sex,” says Anika. “But I wouldn’t. He kept trying to make a move on me. I threatened to call the police. I said I would sleep on the floor. Once, I even punched him in the nose. I did anything and everything to stop him. By the third day he had told his relatives what was going on.”

    While Anika had experienced the pressure of her parents and community, she had not yet experienced the pressure that could be brought to bear in the name of her religion. That was what came next, from her new relatives.

    “The women came to me and said it was written in the Koran that I should sleep with him. I wanted to ask them if it was written in the Koran that you have to force people to get married and have sex … but that would have caused a riot.”

    The guy in question was middle aged and spoke no English, she was 19, born and bred in Scotland.

  16. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:34 pm  

    Gaulloise Blonde

  17. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

    Gaulloise Blonde

    Do you know if suggestions along the lines you have made have even been submitted to the task force?

    It would be great to get someone who is involved in this to speak about what kind of legislation they would like to see.

    Like you say, if such a case under legislation passed on the lines you suggest were to come to court and end in a conviction, the effect would be astonishing, massive.

  18. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

    Oh yeah, I wanted to say too that the line between forced and arranged is not so thin; often there’s more behind a forced marriage than wanting your kids to be settled and happy, even if you have to nag the living shit out of them to get your way.

    The report I cited above says its often a way to restore percieved honour. Son selling coke and sleeping around? Marry him to a country girl and that’ll give him the proper outlook (or provide him with a babymama while he carries on regardless) Daughter getting uppity, wants to go to college where she might get corrupted? Get her a husband, stat. (and leave her with frustrated ambitions, and with a potential for domestic abuse).

  19. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:54 pm  

    Jay, nah no idea, it’s just been something I’ve been thinking about.

    I’m very loosely and unoffically associated with a minority women’s rights organisation in the UK but live now in France and I’ve never brought it up, always talking practicalities. Which is why I was so interested to get your response. I think I will float it by them seeing as it didn’t bomb here…

  20. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    Gaulloise Blonde

    Do get in touch with your contacts and people who are close to the issue and discuss it with them. There are a handful of organisations and individuals who are on the frontline who should be best placed to respond to this suggestion. You could say it is the Nuclear Bomb option, but it’s always good to have the red button there.

    It might be too radical at this moment but my reckoning is that if after a period after the current focus, say three years, no inroads have been made, then it is something to have to consider in the future. Radical solution for the problem.

  21. Sunny — on 16th March, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

    I want to see parents locked up dammit.

  22. Missjy — on 16th March, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    Maybe so Sunny, but if u are an eighteen year old female and had the whole of ur family forcing/pressuring u to do something, it is difficult to ask for police/agency help because u do NOT want to see ur parents locked up…
    From the Law Society Gazette (22nd Sept 2005): it is necessary that proceedings do not punish the perpetrators, rather they protect & assist the victims, who ‘want reassurance that it will not get their parents into trouble’ and this has been raised as a detemining factor by ‘nine out of ten’ victims in regards to whether to go ahead with proceedings….

  23. Sunny — on 16th March, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

    What will legislation change? Well it may force some parents to realise that they’re breaking the law by forcing their kid to get married. I know it doesn’t sound like a big thing but Asian parents are loathe to break the law.

    One could said the same about race legislation. When it was launched people said it would make no difference and that what was needed was a change in attitudes.

    Agreed, but sometimes the law needs to be ahead of changing attitudes. At least a kid can threaten their parents with the police if push came to shove.

  24. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    I want to see parents locked up dammit

    I can remember a case from a few years back where the parents of a girl taken to ‘motherland’ against her will were locked up. It does happen.

  25. Jai — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:14 pm  

    With regards to the problem of sons/daughters “ratting” on their parents, I guess to some extent it’s analogous to the incidence of some women being reluctant to prosecute their husbands/boyfriends after being on the receiving end of domestic violence/abuse or even rape.

    Feelings of residual loyalty, deep emotional ties etc obviously being complicating factors in such situations.

  26. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

    Give this campaign three years to make a difference. If not, bring in the nuclear option.

  27. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:21 pm  

    I’ve just been watching the BBC news report on this item at their website and the first interview is with a guy who experienced this situation. May be good to point out here that guys suffer this crime as well, maybe not to the same extent, but they do.

  28. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:23 pm  

    It’s about 15% I believe Jay.

  29. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:28 pm  

    So Gaulloise Blonde, in between smoking gitanes, sipping wine and eating truffles in Montmartre, I expect you to discuss some of the things you have talked about on this thread with your contacts and keep us up to date with the reception to your ideas here on PP, OK? If you can spare the time from discussing Proust or shopping on the cote d’azur that is ;-)

  30. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:34 pm  

    Galloise, my friend, indicating that I am a gael not a gaul, ie. a taff amongst the frogs. I have emailed the boss and I’m seeing her in London on Tuesday so I may be able to discuss this amongst other business. Vive l’Eurostar!

  31. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:40 pm  

    A desi Welshwoman in France. Amazing.

    Best of luck - let us know what the feedback was that you got from your associates on this particular issue.

  32. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    I’m white, as it goes (and blonde). But I’m still amazing :-)

  33. Jay Singh — on 16th March, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

    A white blonde Welshwoman in France hanging out on Pickled Politics - even more amazing!

    Thanks for all your contributions and knowledge its good to know that this site has such a reach.

  34. Sunny — on 16th March, 2006 at 4:07 pm  

    Not really that surprising Jay, going by the emails I get about 60% of our readers (though only about 40% of posters) are white I’d say.

    Anyway, I’d like the nuclear option now actually. I think this is political correctness again.

    I should have posted this damn consultation paper when the consultation was still going on :(
    doh!

  35. Bikhair — on 16th March, 2006 at 7:25 pm  

    You wanna end forced marriages among Muslims, teach them their religion. Done and done.

  36. Bea — on 16th March, 2006 at 8:46 pm  

    “The women came to me and said it was written in the Koran that I should sleep with him. I wanted to ask them if it was written in the Koran that you have to force people to get married and have sex … but that would have caused a riot.”

    The Quran doesn’t condone the idea of forced marriage, it does however give the message that husband and wife must remain faithful to each other.
    It is yet another example of people misconstruing the divine message in the Holy Book to suit their purpose.
    It would be interesting to see how many of the Asian customs originated from religion and how many got their roots from ignorance and ascendancy.

  37. Bikhair — on 16th March, 2006 at 9:26 pm  

    Bea,

    Dont go there! You will be accused of Asian bashing and called a Saudi Funded Wahhabi Heretic. Take it from me, coming from a bunch of ignorant fools, Sunny not included, it hurts.

  38. Bikhair — on 16th March, 2006 at 9:31 pm  

    Bea,

    Naratted by Abu Hurayrah: “A Woman is not married until she is consulted, and a virgin is not married until you have her permission.” They said, “O messenger of Allaah! And how do obtain her permission? He(Sallallaahu Alay hi Wa Sallam) said: “If she is silent.”

    There are other narations that say, if she remains silent, i.e. doesnt protest, than that is her consent.

    (Bukhaaree, Muslim, Abu Daawood, and an-Nisaa’ee

    Dont tell the Asians though, for many of them, anything their grandfathers, father’s father said is sahih for them.

    Sunny, dont even think about deleting this post!

  39. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 9:58 pm  

    It’s a mistake to say that forced marriage is solely a Muslim issue; the most famous campaigner I know of is Jasvinder Sanghera who was presented with a photograph of her future husband at the age of 15. (She escaped).

    I don’t want to touch the religion issue, other than to say even with the knowledge that they are going against religious precepts some people do bad shit anyway; as an example is a radio interview with an Iraqi ‘honour’ killer, a policeman who shot his cousin on the suspicion that she may have been raped, in which he says he knows it the murder goes against his religion, but that the demands of custom and tribe outweigh this. So ideas of fighting this on pure ideology and theological debate are inadequate.

    The Crown Prosecution Service also has its own campaign going on, launching now, focussing on violent crime against women, and they include forced marriage in this. Press Release here.

    With the theme ‘violence against women and children is a crime’ a series of posters, carrying the strapline ‘It’s Criminal’, will be displayed in community centres, housing offices, police stations, courts, doctors’ surgeries and hospitals across England and Wales.

    The posters deal with nine categories of crime which can affect women and children: domestic violence, rape and sexual assaults, forced marriage, honour crimes, child abuse, human trafficking, elder abuse, prostitution and female genital mutilation. They include contact details and helplines for voluntary organisations who provide advice and support to victims.

    Joined-up government or what. But can they say ‘it’s criminal’ when there is still no official crime committed? Unfortunately, no samples of the posters are available, because I’d like to see how they explain it.

  40. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 10:02 pm  

    Oops. Screwed up the end tag, sorry, sorry. Honour killer here if you’re interested. And in case you can’t pick out the CPS link, that’s here.

  41. Galloise Blonde — on 16th March, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    D’oh. I’m going to bed.

  42. Sunny — on 16th March, 2006 at 11:12 pm  

    Take it from me, coming from a bunch of ignorant fools, Sunny not included,

    Awww, is that compliment Bikhair? Galloise - will clean it up for you.

  43. anand — on 17th March, 2006 at 2:06 am  

    Bikhair

    These problems occur inside Arab societies too, contrary to the precepts of Islam that you outline. Must be the pagan roots coming through.

  44. Galloise Blonde — on 17th March, 2006 at 7:34 am  

    Thanks Sunny. The only detail I know about the proposed new law is that the clerics who celebrate a forced marriage could face a prison sentence of up to five years. This strikes me as pretty clever: a girl might be more willing to pursue a conviction against an imam than her own parents, and a few convictions might make them a bit more careful about establishing consent. (From The Scotsman again, reg req, check the end for the mandatory head in sand community ‘leader’ reaction). Again this only tackles one aspect, doesn’t do anything about marriages which take place abroad (which are often difficult for the FCO to sort out if the girl/boy is a dual national) and there are always those who don’t give two shits for the law, such as in so-called, extremely depressing community marriages.

  45. Sunny — on 17th March, 2006 at 8:37 pm  

    This strikes me as pretty clever: a girl might be more willing to pursue a conviction against an imam than her own parents, and a few convictions might make them a bit more careful about establishing consent

    That, is a bloody great idea. The only problem is they might try and circumvent this by getting the religious ceremonies done in Pakistan/India/Bangladesh as you said.

    I’m gonna be writing about this in my Guardian blog hopefully next week, so anything else you can think of…

  46. Sahara Knite — on 18th March, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

    Bikhair

    “These problems occur inside Arab societies too, contrary to the precepts of Islam that you outline. Must be the pagan roots coming through.”

    Amen to that sister.

  47. Bikhair — on 18th March, 2006 at 9:58 pm  

    Anand and Sahara Knite,

    No, really? There are some communities more estranged from the truth than others. The Subcontinentals have better food though.

  48. thabet — on 21st March, 2006 at 6:33 am  

    Is this as much of an issue in the US? It would appear to be less of a problem there, given that Asians seem more cut off from their ancestral homelands. We in Britain, however, are still Pakistani Punjabi Rais from Faisalabad [insert other suitable religious/tribal/ethnic affiliation].

  49. anand — on 21st March, 2006 at 10:00 am  

    Bikhair

    This stuff is rampant in Arab societies where ‘the truth’ is meant to be closer to them. Take off your blinkers and look at the rotting meat in front of you.

  50. Kulvinder — on 21st March, 2006 at 10:34 am  

    Im still against the idea of a law, forcing someone into marriage is obviously a horrendus thing and make no mistake i very much want to see it eradicated. Bringing in legislation will compell the police/cps to act even in situations where locking up the parents may not be the best solution.

    Any horror stories about false accusations and imprisonments or the media viciously claiming the scalps of parents who have been imprisoned would probably also include generalised attacks on the ‘minority culture’ as a whole, all that would do is further alienate the very community you’re trying to reach out to.

    I can already forsee situations where individuals who have been married for decades turn on their parents, perhaps from an unrelated circumstances and state (perhaps wrongly) that they were forced 20-25 years ago into commitment.

    A continuous campaign of education and making it socially reprehensible will in the long term be far far more successful. I would for example welcome any immigrants who decide to become british citizens having to undertake courses outlining the distain society views these situations with.

    There is already legislation that effectively covers any such situations, listening solely to people like Jasvinder Sanghera who although seemingly wronged - no insinuation just accepting there are two sides to every story - is to paraphrase her own words, alienated from her ‘community’.

    Heeding only her words is hardly the most logical step in reaching out and changing the opinions of segments of that community.

    It shall be even more absurd if the goverment takes it to the extreme and legislates against ‘psychological‘ coercion. Every parent tries to coerce their children in some instance (not always a bad thing). The royal family instance would most likely become victim to such laws.

    Charles taking his father to trial over his marriage to diana. Regina V Her hubby. How fun. And of no help to we are trying to achieve.

  51. Kulvinder — on 21st March, 2006 at 10:58 am  

    a girl might be more willing to pursue a conviction against an imam than her own parents, and a few convictions might make them a bit more careful about establishing consent.

    …and would leave the clerics open to abuse from individuals who claimed they were consenting to marriage, or who gave the impression they were.

    How do you plan on deciding which argument to believe when faced with a cleric who says the bride gave no indication of doubt and a woman who says she did.

    Or are you in favour of more utterly retarded legislation that puts the burden of proof on the accused?

  52. Jay Singh — on 21st March, 2006 at 10:58 am  

    Charles taking his father to trial over his marriage to diana. Regina V Her hubby. How fun. And of no help to we are trying to achieve.

    LoL

  53. Galloise Blonde — on 25th March, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

    I’m not letting you have the last word, Kulvinder. On the question of the cleric, then surely it is the responsibility of the cleric to ensure consent? If you’re imagining a lot of malicious claims, please recall that weddings are rarely performed without witnesses. Anneka Sohrab had her marriage annulled in 2002: the evidence presented was her wedding video which clearly showed her unhappiness. In any case, how hard can it be in such a formal context as a wedding to make sure that both parties are consenting?

    Seeing that the consensual forseen outcome is that girls would be too reluctant to use any new law, how you go from this to foressing that people will use it to get out of the repsonsibility for their failed marriage years after the fact is just bizarre. I’m fairly certain the CPS wouldn’t prosecute this, particularly not as a test case. It’s about as likely a scenario as if, after 10 years of joint mortgage and childraising, I tried to get them to prosecute him for raping me in 1996.

    And dispute Jasvinder Sanghera’s story if you wish (although I don’t beleive there is any evidence), but also note that the Council of British Pakistanis in Scotland say that half of overseas marriages are coerced; and that domestic abuse is 68% in forced marriages. link And that despite whatever social pressures are existing the number of forced marriages is increasing. You seem to suggest that the fact that Ms Sanghera is estranged from her community means she’s out-of-touch, an outlying opinion; yet still you further suggest that changes can come through social changes alone. If her community is rejecting her, then surely this is an indication of a deep-seated resistence that needs stronger measures to overcome. Striking a balance between opposing positions here is supporting the status quo.

    I agree with you on psychological coercion; impossible to legislate and creates a false equation between arranged and forced marriages. But I do believe that a stronger position on physical coercion will make it harder for parents to pressurise their children through manipulation and guilt. It’s easier to keep saying ‘no’ when you know that eventually, they have no other recourse to force their wishes upon you.

    Incidentally, France has just raised the age for marriage to 18 to reduce the incidence of forced marriage.

  54. Kulvinder — on 25th March, 2006 at 7:15 pm  

    I’m not letting you have the last word, Kulvinder.

    Having the last ‘word’ doesn’t signify anything of importance, if you want to be the last to post ill be happy to let you, but that seems to indicate an unrealistically progressive and never ending view on a particular topic, rather than focusing on the merit of a particular argument. If there isn’t anything interesting left to say i don’t have any problem in refraining from posting.

    On the question of the cleric, then surely it is the responsibility of the cleric to ensure consent?

    How? A marriage ceremony is in itself nothing more than the physical representation of a contract that is undertaken by two individuals, the ceremony - without any exception that i can think of - draws on some form eventual symbolism or verbalism of consent ‘do you take this man…’. You’re asking a religious figure to make complex judgements on emotional proceedings, thats difficult even in the sombre reality of a court of law.

    If you’re imagining a lot of malicious claims, please recall that weddings are rarely performed without witnesses. Anneka Sohrab had her marriage annulled in 2002: the evidence presented was her wedding video which clearly showed her unhappiness. In any case, how hard can it be in such a formal context as a wedding to make sure that both parties are consenting?

    Display of unhappiness isn’t an indicator of significance, the idea that a bride should ‘be radiant’ or behave in an overtly happy manner may (or may not) play a part in Christian ceremonies but doesn’t automatically map over to other cultures. Although the trend is changing to a degree of late, most sikh brides ive seen have sat demurely and without overtly showing any positve emotion, the groom even less so. Im sure there shall be an argument as to the reasoning of the above from other posters but it probably has something to do with the bride not displaying overt happiness at leaving her family combined in large part to respect for the proceedings themselves. I very rarely see any smiles during the religious proceedings, its usually seen as being disrespectful.

    You seem to be arguing solely from the POV of the proceedings, whereas im looking at it from the perspective of the cleric in a court having to explain the ceremony. It would be incredibly harsh to first make a supposition on the nature of the ceremony, demeanor of those involved as well as what ever symbolism and verbalism exists as well as to ignore the signing of the marriage certificate itself.

    Unless the bride or groom unequivically state their objection to any of the above it is incredibly difficult to judge what emotive signals could have been picked up on.

    I think you’re taking a naive view if you believe that in a court a cleric of whatever denomination would admit that they knew the reluctance of the parties involved, or that the bride and groom would give any indication that members of the community would consider ‘out of the norm’ for such proceedings. Im interested to know how you’d define what the test was.

    Seeing that the consensual forseen outcome is that girls would be too reluctant to use any new law, how you go from this to foressing that people will use it to get out of the repsonsibility for their failed marriage years after the fact is just bizarre. I’m fairly certain the CPS wouldn’t prosecute this, particularly not as a test case. It’s about as likely a scenario as if, after 10 years of joint mortgage and childraising, I tried to get them to prosecute him for raping me in 1996.

    You’d be surprised :(

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree on our take of human nature. Particularly if there is any likelihood of compensation at the end of proceedings.

    And dispute Jasvinder Sanghera’s story if you wish (although I don’t beleive there is any evidence),

    Dispute isn’t the same as refraining from acceptance. One may or may not dispute her story after hearing statements from all those involved. Without knowing anything more about what happened i accept she was seemingly wronged. I stand by that.


    but also note that the Council of British Pakistanis in Scotland say that half of overseas marriages are coerced; and that domestic abuse is 68% in forced marriages. link And that despite whatever social pressures are existing the number of forced marriages is increasing. You seem to suggest that the fact that Ms Sanghera is estranged from her community means she’s out-of-touch, an outlying opinion; yet still you further suggest that changes can come through social changes alone. If her community is rejecting her, then surely this is an indication of a deep-seated resistance that needs stronger measures to overcome. Striking a balance between opposing positions here is supporting the status quo.

    If i remember correctly she was the one who suggested that to whatever extent her opinions were out of touch and ‘outlying’. Obviously changes can come through social change alone, that’s a truism for anything. You may legislate all you want, but ultimately society only decides to change because it accepts your arguments and changes itself. I know sentencing is meant to act in part as a deterrent, but well if that were the case society would have been free of crime a long time ago.

    Parliament may act with clumsy laws, there may well be a situation where that results in a conviction, that conviction may well result in a lengthy prison sentence. Whether that leads to a lessening of forced marriages and more openness or whether it results in a far more insular community that simply shuns outsiders with more vigour is a matter of opinion.

    As you’ve realised i take the latter view, make them afraid of the law if you want that won’t change their mind.

    But I do believe that a stronger position on physical coercion will make it harder for parents to pressurise their children through manipulation and guilt. It’s easier to keep saying ‘no’ when you know that eventually, they have no other recourse to force their wishes upon you.

    We already have laws for kidnap and abuse for that. If that is all you want im curious why you think these new laws will be any more effective in dealing with the cases you’ve highlighted?

    Incidentally, France has just raised the age for marriage to 18 to reduce the incidence of forced marriage.

    Ah the French, i can’t think of a single thing in history they did better than Britain. Empire and more importantly the end of Empire included. So what was the rationale behind that piece of thinking? Their ethnic communities may be different to ours, but in Britain parental coercion is usually a factor of ‘relationship’ and not variables like age.

    One day i may be a grey old man but in my minds eye i shall always be an eight year old holding my fathers hand. He is my dad and i am his son, if he so wished he could coerce me at 17 as well as at 47.

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