Suicide Due to Prospect of Forced Marriage

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 10th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/28nkqb56/
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Relationships

Suicide is never a headline you wish to see! Here though an impossible conflict leads to a life so sadly lost, when someone is happy in life why is it necessary for families to intervene? Forcing your daughter into a marriage she does not want sadly leads to suicide, but also families needs to accept her choice and stop dis-honour killings.

Suicide!

This is not a headline you wish to ever see. It is even worse to find this is because of a forced arranged marriage her parents wanted to force on her. In doing this her parents reject the man she already lives happily with - the reason he is not from her culture and ultimately her parents disapproved of her liaison with him. Sadly this was not the first time this has ever happened and worse still it will not be the last. She was Canadian born, yet of East Indian parentage, he white Canadian and that is where there problems started, at least in her parent's eyes.

The problem, she was seen to be dishonouring her family and her culture, in her parents old fashioned mode of thinking the only way to address the 'dishonour' was to have their daughter married off to someone inside their community (usually old and unattractive), yet to this young lady her Canadian culture was more important that her parents Indian heritage, creating an insurmountable divide.

After months of personal turmoil, conflict and confusion it seemed that taking her own life was her only response, this may not be the path that most rational people take, but these were not sane or rational times for this young woman. Instead of contemplating a life with the man she loved she had to worry about pleasing her parents, whom she also loved dearly. She was living a life of dissent at a time when she should have been building positive relationships, she should have been at the top of her world, not at the bottom, in the depths of depravity, for her sleep was impossible and daytime worse, an impossible conflict; for her at least, and with such a sad ending!

Force!

It is a sad fact that about 55 per cent of marriages in the world today are "arranged" and some families still push their children into arrangements against their will. Is there a difference between "arranged" and "forced" marriage? Forced marriage is still practised in parts of South Asia, East Asia and Africa and among immigrants to the west from these regions, for a marriage to be valid both parties must give their consent freely, which is certainly not the case for many girls under the age of consent.

This writer has lived on the edge of a culture that believes in making arrangements for their children, yet as families migrate from their old countries to the west they keep with them old world values and seem to forget that their sons and daughters are actually living a different life than their parents did; they are no longer living in the old world. Children go to school with boys and girls having massively different ethnic backgrounds and there is no reason why Indians, Ghanaians, Chinese, Serbians and white Canadians cannot become firm friends, for them there is no cultural difference and no one cares about skin colour, it is simply a matter of living life and as such having boy-friends and girl-friends become a natural part of their growth and transition from youth to adulthood.

It is one thing for parents to help their children meet prospective partners, it is quite a different thing to take them off to the other side of the world to a land they have never visited and force them to marry, often at a young age like 14 or 15 years of age to someone they have never met, who may be many years older than they are. The trouble with statements like "Marry the man we chose, or you are dead to us" is that dead can often indicate a capacity of the family to consider a so called "honour" killing.

Australia recently changed the laws around forced marriage making it akin to slavery, or slavery-like practices such as human trafficking additionally UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced new criminal laws against parents who force their children into marriage, Norway, Germany and other European nations have moved to make forced marriage a specific criminal offence.

Conflicting Loves

Conflicting loves and cultural differences will have weighed heavily in the last few weeks of her life. Most people, including her lover cannot truly understand the burden she was living with at that time. That burden will have been ever present, at work, at home, on the bus, or waiting in the queue in the pharmacy. For every move there is a reason not to make it and ultimately conflict at every turn.

Part of the problem here is an ability to understand the other person's point of view and there is rarely an easy answer where complex family matters are concerned.

Love Across Differing Cultures IS Possible

Yet, ultimately love across cultural divisions is possible - this writer is living proof of that - having been married for over 26 years with the most beautiful lady of Indian heritage from Mombasa, Kenya. Part of this also relates to different times - the 1980s had a different outlook than is often seen today - there was a growing trust between cultures that seems to be more hidden today; but part of any good relationship is about building trust and love with in-laws. I have been blessed to love and be loved by my Indian family. My darling wife always made it clear to her parents that she would marry the person she chose and not someone selected by her parents (part of that different outlook that was evident in the 1980s). When I announced to her mother that we planned to get married her mother exclaimed "I'm ready" and true to her word she was.

One of the cultural challenges relating to India and its people is that of parents arranging who their sons and daughters will marry. Arranged marriages are a part of Indian culture and is a part of family traditions, even when they have migrated away from India to the western world. This is also a tradition for many other parts of the world, even many European states.

Introductions Not Force

There is nothing wrong with parents making introductions for their children - particularly in our busy business driven world, but force is always wrong. At the end of the day NO means no and there can be no doubt about that. Parental pressure to marry someone from the "approved list" is immense in some communities and it is not something that be simply dismissed with a smile before being shaken off. When things people do not wish to happen are forced upon them by others it is a time when they go through many intense emotions, and in some instances they close down altogether - this is part of an panic imperative and can be why some people turn to suicide; it seems the only option.

No matter what a parent wants for their child, once they are an adult they must be responsible for making their own choices. Suicide and 'honour' murders are the tragic conclusion of bad choices made by the parents.

Free Choice & Falling in Love

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Tags

Arranged Marriage, Conflict, Conflict At Every Turn, Conflicting Loves, Confusion, Cultural Differences, Cultural Divide, Forced Marriage, Honor Killings, Honour Killings, Impossible Conflict, Suicide, Turmoil

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Lady Aiyanna
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Its a common story out in India wherein many are made to marry people whom they don't want to marry and result is suicide to get out of it. Some of them already have their girlfriends and boyfriends and yet are forced into this.
If I had known my husbands ex was still the love of his life, I would have never married him as he was never mine but hers, he went back to her after 12 years of marriage ditching the wife and child and his mother approved it too....

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
1st Apr 2014 (#)

I left so that he didn't commit suicide and got all the proof I needed.

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author avatar Funom Makama
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks alot Peter.B.G for this wonderful, excellent but sad piece... One addition I need to make is its broader implication to the society (especially in immigrant cases)... Take for instance, NORWAY! A lot of Pakistanis have migrated there and they ensure their daughters do not marry the Norwegians, to so called "maintian their cultures' and over the years, there is no homogenousity or mix in cultures between the Norwegians and the Parkistanis and with the ever growing and increase in the Parkistani population, Norway is gradually becoming a composition of two, different and OPPOSITE cultural groups and hence paving the way for unnecessary conflicts, violence and crimes.. One side sees the other as different and if this continues over the years, this immigrant group will definitely become a huge threat in Norway!

Marriage of choice in such situation enables rampant mixing of 'cultures' and we get to appreciate each other more and even make all facets of the development of such a society stronger, taking advantage of the diversity. I presently reside in Germany and I notice this same trend amongst the Turkish tribes living here. They do not mix and they put immense pressure on their daughters if they even dare have boyfriends. Though not all, but a large chunk of them still practice this. Thanks a lot for this excellent piece and I will definitely share it.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Funom, Sir. I do understand exactly what you are talking about in both Norway and Genmany, ultimately (and maybe not for the next decade or two) even these peoples will integrate. One fact everyone should be aware of in England in the 1790's (when slavery was abolished) the thousands of freed slaves did not return to Africa, they stayed on in England and by the early 1900s there were no black people left, they had either integrated with the indigenous population or had turned pale (because their DNA detected that they no longer needed the extra protection from the sun).

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Thought provoking, Peter.This is a very relevant topic for those mainly from South Asia. I remember my British friend telling me three decades ago to make sense of a reality in Britain - your boys have a good time (used another term, no price for guessing!) with our girls but you lock up your girls at home!

Earlier times a marriage acted as a union between families too but those times are history; the younger generation are more practical. In my own family there are cross cultural marriages and they do raise an eye brow but is soon water under the bridge. However, there are some issues that couples have to bear in mind as to what religion, if at all, they would follow and, down the road, their children. And also, how they embrace other cultures like during a religious ceremony which some refuse to participate feeling they will stick out like a sore thumb which only shows their intolerance.

The fanatical parents have to understand they cannot have best of both worlds when they settle in foreign lands. Arranged marriages are looked down upon by the young and the parents who insist on it will have to take the blame if the union sours and also encourages their children to walk out of such marriages in a jiffy. I think of Prince Charles and Diana even. When they make own decision they have to face the music all alone, so the wise choice is clear - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Siva, I used the term "forced" marriage quite deliberately here because as such I have no problem with parents assisting their children and offering potential pairings, so long as the children have a right to refuse and you are right about Charles/Diana their marriage was arranged, but this is also traditional for the aristocracy.

I remain happily married to my Muslim born wife (although neither of us are religious) and am as proud to be a part of the Khan clan as she is to be a part of the Giblett family.

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author avatar joyalariwo
1st Apr 2014 (#)

What maddens me is the way people get misguided or hide under the guise of Culture, Tradition and also religion to commit such atrocities.

I only have one question for her loving parents, they told her that she would be dead to them if she went against their wishes right? Well are they happy now that she is really dead?

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
1st Apr 2014 (#)

&joyalariwo, that is a key question.

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author avatar Mariah
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

What does it say when a young woman chooses to end her life rather than be parted from the man she loves and face life with a partner who has been selected for her.
Whereas there is an element of practicality within the tradition, the objective being that compatible backgrounds of culture will evolve into a solid marriage, it is in my opinion, an infringement of human rights to enforce this on those who choose to go with their heart and not by the book.
Excellent post Peter, thank you

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Actually forced marriage may indeed be a breach of the International Convention of Human Rights (ICHR) which does provide the right to freely choose the person you marry.

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author avatar Retired
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Sad when one has to commit suicide just to make people happy.

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author avatar vandana7
10th May 2014 (#)

Wow...nice article. You sure know what is happening at our end of the world. But sanctions are only against Ukraine and Iraq. No sanctions against India for human rights violations. Somebody married outside caste and was even interviewed on television. Soon thereafter, their folks located them and killed them. That is how deep it runs.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
10th May 2014 (#)

I have lived close the the Indian community for much of my life.

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9th Dec 2014 (#)

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