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Forced Marriage--Commentary and Poem

I started writing poetry as a child. I write performance poetry, observational, sometimes humorous, sometimes serious human rights issues

The Concept of Arranged Marriage is Different From That of a Forced Marriage

I learned first-hand about the anxiety and fear that women undergo at the prospect of being pressured into an arranged marriage unwillingly when this was explained to me by an Asian friend who was living with me at the time. She was born in England, a graduate, middle-class and with no trace of a foreign accent--in every way a lively, happy-go-lucky and normal Londoner.

But her father was very insistent that she should not marry out of their religion and, although she was quite open to this, even suggesting her parents introduce her to an appropriate prospective husband, her modern view was that she wanted to marry for love and that she would want to marry someone as modern as her, and not someone with traditional religious views.

Although not especially religious himself, her father would only introduce her to very traditional suitors, and, as she was being pernickety, he wanted to send her off to their family in Asia . One of her friends had been sent off to Asia and her passport withheld from her, to make sure she stayed there, and consequently my friend was so worried that she took her passport and left home, to prevent the same thing happening to her.

She ended up not trusting her own parents, and somewhat estranged from her father. To avoid the relationship difficulties, she left England and ended up abroad, cutting her ties to escape her family's influence. She loved her father, and this was not a desirable outcome, but she felt she had no option.

Exerpt from Hansard Report--The Awful Statistics on Forced Marriage

(Hansard is the official British Parliamentary Report and Record of Parliamentary Proceedings)

Forced Marriage

"The Government's Forced Marriage Unit (a joint Home Office and FCO Unit, established in 2005) deals with a significant number of forced marriage cases every year. In 2008, the unit began keeping more detailed statistics on all reportings of forced marriage that were referred to the FMU......

During the whole of 2008 the unit received reports of over 1,600 possible forced marriage cases."

The Secretary of State for the Home Department was asked what funding that Department is providing for specialist support for organisations dealing with forced marriage in 2009-10.

6 May 2009 : Column 283W:

"Mr. Alan Campbell: Following a successful pilot in 2008 the joint Home Office/Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) has allocated £84,000 to its Domestic Programme fund for 2009-10. Specialist organisations will shortly be invited to apply for funds for project activities which support delivery of the FMU's 2009 and 2010 action plan. The Unit also separately funds support and awareness raising activity overseas, including in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

"The Home Office has also allocated a total of £3.5 million to the nine Government offices for the regions and the Welsh Assembly for 2009-10 to support initiatives to tackle domestic violence. A number of regions have chosen to allocate specific funding to local initiatives tackling forced marriage in their areas.

"The unit intervened to provide direct support in 420 cases. Of these cases 213 were assistance cases where interventions were made overseas, and 207 were reluctant sponsor cases where immigration support was given."

Houses of Parliament--London

Below is My Poem "Blood on Their Hands"

It is a Vilanelle, an unusual and old form of poetry


Blood on Their Hands

Do not reveal your abject fear

Forced marriage cannot be the way

Stand and fight, stand solid here

Protect the rights you hold most dear

Your life is short, your marriage long

Do not reveal your abject fear

If need be, run away and hide

Demand that only you decide

Stand and fight, stand solid here

Your parents may think they know best

But never put it to the test

Do not reveal your abject fear

Speak out to those who bully you

But get some help along the way

Stand and fight, stand solid here

I do not want to see you killed

And honour is no virtue

Do not reveal your abject fear

Stand and fight, stand solid here.

© Diana Grant 12th February 2008

You Can Learn More About Vilanelles Here:

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Some YouTube Videos on Forced Marriage

Marital Love--Taliban and Yemeni Style--Just Don't Try to Escape!

I was so incensed by this Reuters 2011 news item that I just had to put it in here, and a further Daily Mail article dated September 10th 2013

What Do you think About Arranged Marriage? - Does it Work?

Arranged marriages take place in many cultures and many people think that families have more judgment and are better at choosing a spouse for their children than their youthful and inexperienced children are themselves.

If you have had an arranged marriage, arranged a marriage for someone else, or know someone in an arranged marriage, tell us what your experience is.

Stoned to Death for Adultery--Are You Aware That Women Get Stoned to Death for Adultery in Some Countries?

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran in 2010. Due to international outcry the sentence was not carried out, but she is still under a death sentence for complicity in her husband's death.

Are You aware that even in 2018 women can still get stoned to death for adultery In some barbaric countries? Not only that, but if a woman gets raped, in some countries she would be punished for adultery, whilst the rapist gets off far more leniently. The punishment might be anything from gang rape actually ordered by the local court (as in parts of India) to stoning, 100 lashes, or being cut off without a penny, to beg in the streets.

Here are Some Links to News Stories About Forced Marriage and Stoning for Adultery

Read the stories below, and, if you can, join a rally, sign a petition, or publicize them in the best way you can. Shaming governments is the only way to stop this horrific cruelty and disrespect for life and women's human rights.

There are a number of useful links for those seeking help or information - these are just a few of them.

And what do you think about arranged marriages as opposed to forced marriage--do they work?

© 2010 Diana Grant

Please Leave a Comment Here--Is Enough Being Done to Free Women From Forced Marriage?

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 05, 2015:

Thanks - That's what's needed - can't think why we haven't put our minds to this years ago.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on February 26, 2015:

Tough topic to read about, but this is a powerful message.

Sharing this article around the world!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 06, 2014:

@ecogranny: Many of us feel strongly about this subject, and I am delighted by your support. It's hard to change entrenched traditional attitudes, and the best way is to educate the younger generation to believe in justice and fair play, and to exert political pressure on governments to change their ways. That's why petitions and publicity are so important.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on March 06, 2014:

Enough will not be done to free women from forced marriage until every woman is free to make all her own choices about her life and her body. Until then, as some wise person somewhere once said, none of us is free.

As for arranged marriages, I personally have very little first-hand knowledge. One woman I know has refused every suitor her parents in India have encouraged her to accept, remaining single and working here in the states, living alone, for many years.

I have read a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, dealing with the subject of forced marriage and the ways women are entrapped once married, with no personal rights whatsoever. Some husbands have pimped their wives to other men. Many wives have endured horrific sexual assaults and beatings.

I know some of the story of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. In fact I blogged about it myself, and called on my readers to sign the petition asking for leniency and clemency. I understand her daily life remains a horror and that her son continues to strive for her freedom.

I have also witnessed videos of women being stoned for such offenses as having been raped and therefore having sullied their families' honor. And I remember all too well the public beheading, televised worldwide in the 70s or 80s of the woman clad in a cheery blue burka in, I believe it was, Saudi Arabia. Her crime, apparently, was adultery.

Only today, a woman in our country drove herself and her three children into the ocean in an attempt to kill them. It was reported that she was fleeing an abusive husband who beat her and perhaps her children. One assumes, because this is the so-called Land of the Free, that she freely chose her husband, but clearly she does not feel free to escape the bondage of her marriage, except to take her own life and the lives of her children.

The horror of such stories never bites with less sting, no matter how many times I hear them or read of them.

Until every woman on the planet is free, none of us is free.

Thank you for educating us, and thank you for the courage it took for you to go to work every day, perhaps still does. May you be blessed a thousand-fold.

tonyleather on March 05, 2014:

What a truly amazing and fascinating lens about an abhorrent practice! Well done!

Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on March 05, 2014:

Women really do suffer a lot of abuses. Too many in this day and age. I pray that our societies all over the world may respect our women and girls. Thanks for raising awareness, Gloriousconfusion!

anonymous on July 05, 2013:

@LisaDH: Awesome article, I am a big fan of this website, keep on posting that great content, and I'll be a regular visitor for a long time...looking for the next one....keep it up!!!

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on January 26, 2013:

It is hard for me to imagine such a thing as a forced marriage so I appreciate this eye opening read.

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on January 26, 2013:

I agree there is a difference between arranged marriage and forced marriage. It is not the same thing.

The attitude toward women is a frightening thing to me. A woman born in the US and married to a man from Syria told me she feared for her adult daughters who were born and raised in the US. Her husband expressed a desire to kill them because they choose to live in their own apartment as single women, go out on dates with men and refuse to let him choose their husbands. He said if they were in Syria they would already be dead.

I cannot comprehend having this attitude toward one's child! I feel sick thinking about it. This is just one family, but there are so many women and girls in this situation. It gives me tremendous sorrow. I think we should provide amnesty to each one! How can we allow this to continue?

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on January 25, 2013:

@LisaDH: Yes, there's a big difference

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on January 25, 2013:

@Michey LM: Thanks for blessings

Michey LM on January 25, 2013:

Very important topic, everything which is forced is not good, healthy relation, and so on. It is amusing that in 21st Century we have some form of barbarism... Great resource to open eyes and minds. Blessings!

LisaDH on January 25, 2013:

Being a Westerner, I always thought the idea of an arranged marriage was repugnant. But after visiting India and meeting some people who made me see things differently, I think it can work for some people, but not if it's a FORCED marriage. There's a definite difference. In the US, we often trust friends or family to "arrange" dates with others they think would be compatible with us. That type of "arrangement" can work anywhere in the world But forcing someone to marry another person they don't love, like or even know is wrong.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 22, 2012:

@anonymous: It has been in the news a lot recently in the UK, and there is talk of Parliament bringing in new laws to punish the perpetrators of forced marriage with imprisonment, on the basis that it is a form of slavery

anonymous on August 22, 2012:

This is an interesting lens full of useful information. I thought forced marriage doesn't exist anymore.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 12, 2012:

@Lady Lorelei: Yes, I intend to keep writing about injustice

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on August 10, 2012:

It would be nice if one could wave a magic wand and make all the injustice in our world go away. Unfortunately it won't so writing articles and increasing public awareness is still our best method.

dannystaple on August 04, 2012:

Thank for a lens on a subject that makes me really, really angry. I care not for those who say this is cultural reletavism. Forced marriage, institutionally condoned rape and stoning are all unacceptable, and those countries who are able to intervene to prevent such horrors will win my support to do so. This is more important than "cultural sensitivity" or "sovereignty".

anonymous on May 07, 2012:

Thank you, that is a beautiful poem that says it all.

RodLambert on December 13, 2011:

Thanks for opening my eyes to this issue. More people need to know about this issue and the effect it is having on women's lives all over the world.

anonymous on November 26, 2011:

I didn't know much about forced marriages before visiting your lens. What a horrible thing! Good job explaining this issue.

anonymous on February 05, 2011:

You are a natural and creative poet, poems seem to come like a gracious flow. Beautiful lens depicting the need of consent in marriage.

ICanCook on November 14, 2010:

Wow. Thank you for bring a very important topic to light. As a woman I feel the pain of every other woman when they have to do things that are not of their own will. Good Job!

pylemountain1 on November 13, 2010:

The concept of forced or even arranged marriages are so far out of my worldview that I really can't even imagine what it would be like. And I can't imagine anyone forcing their daughter to marry someone.

Liz Mackay from United Kingdom on November 09, 2010:

Very good lens on an important topic with far reaching effects on many women.

reasonablerobby on November 09, 2010:

I don't believe this is a case of relative values being simply different. A woman's right to choose her partner is a fundamental human right that transcends local traditions and any urge to socially engineer marital status.

sheriangell on November 09, 2010:

Great job! No arranged marriages don't work

reasonablerobby on November 09, 2010:

A very important topic. Whilst customs and traditions vary i feel that the right of woman or man for that matter to choose who they marry is a fundamental human right, and that this right trumps any societal need to 'engineer' wedlock.

vitar on November 02, 2010:

Awesome lens!Keep it up!

Please stop by and check my lens Funny Wedding Cake Toppers.


norma-holt on June 01, 2010:

This is a beautiful thought provoking and important lens on a necessary subject. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

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