Over a month ago, I wrote a column that was inspired by Gabriele Pauli’s proposal to limit marriage to seven years — with an option to renew, of course. I won’t repeat the issues I raised save to say that the permanence of marriage is more of a religious/cultural characteristic rather than a legal one.
In June, there was another column about women in Kyrgyzstan being abducted and forced into marriage.
Today, I read some media reports about a move by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to criminalize forced marriages among Muslim immigrants in Germany.
For decades, Germany looked the other way when it came to what was considered the private business of immigrant families. But fears about a “parallel society,” extremism and lack of integration have led to a tougher stance, especially when it comes to basics such as respecting women’s rights and learning German…
…The impetus behind pressure to marry is found in conservative families’ opposition to Western, secular ways such as dating and premarital sex — considered affronts to family honor.
Such pressures are also behind so-called honor killings by family members such as brothers or husbands. The Federal Crime Office counted 55 such cases from 1996 to 2005. [International Herald Tribune]
While I am all for respecting cultural differences to the point that I believe that there have been too many instances when the West has insisted on arbitrarily imposing its norms on other cultures, it is an altogether different story when it comes to immigrants who are bound by the laws and are obliged to respect the culture of the country that they have chosen to call home. I can only hope that Muslims are not being singled out because of the prevailing anti-Muslin sentiment in the West.
Meanwhile, in the UK, arranged marriages are being given a high profile and I’m not so sure whether the intention is to inform and educate, make fun of, or simply to exploit.
A new TV series called Arrange Me A Marriage will premiere in the UK on November 22.
Arrange Me A Marriage which airs next month on BBC2 is hosted by Aneela Rahman, a thirty-something British Pakistani who is being heralded as the “Asian Cilla Black”.
With such high divorce rates in the UK, Ms Rahman believes the key to successfully finding a life partner is through the principles of a modern arranged marriage in which compatibility is crucial. Only by matching up class, education, family background, life goals and earnings will it ultimately succeed. [The Independent]
What a crazy world.