Preventing Forced Marriages

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I’m visiting my in-laws in the D.C. area this weekend and came across this  fascinating story on the cover of the Washington Post this morning. The story follows a British diplomat in Pakistan whose job it is to rescue women who are being forced to marry by their parents—that is, not to enter into an arranged marriage to which the woman has consented, but to enter into a marriage against her will, sometimes at gunpoint. The story is fascinating because it deals with the clash of cultures (in terms of the conflict between the economic draw and concomitant moral repulsion of Britain for some immigrants, here the parents of the women being forced to marry), the commodification of women (who are married off to preserve the honor of the family, to prevent a marriage outside the religion, and/or to keep wealth tightly controlled by forcing marriage to a cousin or someone from the home village), and the British government’s decision eight years ago that these forced marriages (when they involve a U.K. citizen) are a problem in need of redress.

-Anthony C. Infanti

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