If we want to fight forced marriages, let’s admit to some hard truths first

Saurav Dutt
Posted September 1, 2016 from United Kingdom

Rape and forced marriage are the final destination of values that see women only as objects, not human beings. It is always right to question how and why those values still have currency, and call them out for what they are.

But we can’t turn our eye to some uncomfortable, horrible truths about why it continues to this day and operates under the radar.

Multi-culturalism means we have turned a blind eye to cultural practices that would never be allowed in mainstream society. With the authority’s hands tied by the separation of communities, and fear of those who are supposed to protect women and girls in this situation of being branded a racist, we have to at least start by admitting that cultural profiling is a prosaic way of redressing the pain women have to go through and in many cases to prevent their disappearance and even death.

The ideals of the enlightenment of this cultural malaise have never really been attained in the West, but they remain the Gold Standard, the aspirational ideal. Rule of law and equality before the law are not ideas most Western societies are willing to surrender. At its worst, multiculturalism dashes itself upon the rocks of these ideals. There will have to be limits to what the Western nations will accommodate.

The uncomfortable truth is that, like FGM, forced marriage is an issue which will require caution based upon cultural profiling.

Progressives don't like the idea of profiling, and I can certainly understand why, but until one can admit where the problem lies I don't understand how it can be properly addressed.

First let’s take education. We need to educate people about the pressing issues in society (violence, abuse etc.) The media singlehandedly is responsible for people focusing on issues least likely to affect them and something needs to be done to counteract this.

Forced marriage is a crime and almost exclusively exists in non-domestic UK cultures, and is still seen as acceptable by members of these cultures who are not prepared to accept the more liberal and egalitarian views of the domestic culture. That is a fact whether we like the implications or not.

The legalisation of gay marriage taught me one thing: social progress is much easier to achieve if you focus on one specific issue. Gays and lesbians focussed on marriage and nothing else, and in a surprisingly short time they achieved success, even if people in countries like the UK had to wait a bit longer.

So why not focus on forced marriage and forced marriage alone? If one broadens the discussion to "cultural traditions all over the world", success will be much harder to achieve.

That's not to say that single-issue advocacy has no effects on other issues. Just look at ms. Jenner, previously known as Bruce. Even American republicans hesitate to criticise her choice. I've no proof, but I personally believe that the debate about gay marriage in the US played an important role in this reluctance.

Contemporary Leftwing thinking is cover for the heartless individuals who revel in plucking women from their happy lives with absolutely no concern for their wellbeing and their wants.

Such liberals see a very clear and serious problem (which they normally euphemistically call a challenge) but to deal with that problem means standing up to and offending a "culprit" that they would prefer to class as a "victim".

So what do they do? They talk around it, throwing in numerous White Straw Men hoping to fudge things over make themselves look liberal.

The general UK law on marriage is that if a type of marriage which the UK does not recognise takes place in a sovereign territory where that type of marriage is recognised, then the UK will recognise the marriage as legally binding.

Thus, the UK government recognises polygamous marriages if they take place in Pakistan or another country in which they are legal. The law on forced marriage is even more relaxed.

Saving girls/young women from this is a difficult and costly task. What 16 year-old girl has the means to leave home? Even if she does she won't be out of reach of the community. Stopping underage girls from getting married in Pakistan is even more difficult, I knew two girls who didn't even sit their exams, just didn't come back to school after half term. I was one of the few non-muslims to know what happened to them. Even in the mid-nineties the segregration was extreme. I dread to think what my old school is like now.

Stopping the crime of forced marriage is difficult and expensive, but it is not the fault of the girls because their parents (usually father) thrusts them into this world, they should get help to break free from these abusive 'communities', some might even need to move cities. Changing attitudes will take more than a generation, if anything things have got worse in terms of cultural divide.

And let’s get one thing clear, you can’t draw a bridge between this issue and arranged marriage. They are quite different indeed. A forced marriage includes having to have sex with a person you did not choose for yourself and do not want to be with, which is rape (sex by where consent is due to manipulation or threats is rape), it can include having children you did not want again with a person you do not want to be having children with. And in a lot of cases it is being forced on teenage girls who would never be deciding to be married or possibly even sexually active at all at that point in their lives.

And the women who do manage to survive forced marriages are indeed survivors. The reason "survivor" is applicable is the measure of long-term harm psychological rape (and forced marriage) have. Many of those who do not commit suicide or try to (rape victims are 13 times more likely to attempt it) still feel as if they are in a limbo state - alive but not "living".

As for forced marriage, the communities that force marriage are also by and large the "honour killing" communities, so - yes - survivor is directly relevant.

If we want to tackle this gargantuan problem, it’s time we deal with some uncomfortable truths otherwise more girls, more women will slip through the net and we’ll never see their faces again: dead or alive.

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 0

Log in or register to post comments