Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The curse of Arranged Marriages

The curse of Arranged Marriages
Arranged marriage: a marriage partner selection process in which the future bride and groom usually do not participate actively in the decision. Marriages are commonly arranged by parents or their agents when the marriages are seen as principally uniting two families rather than just husband and wife. There is also often the rationalization that teenagers and young adults are too inexperienced to make a wise mate selection. The tradition of arranged marriages has been dramatically undermined whenever romantic love becomes a popular notion in a society.
The most primal needs of any being on this earth, may it be Human or an animal are the hunt for food then comes the need for shelter and once these two basic needs have been met, both human and animals look for a mate to propagate their species.
Humans, being intelligent and with the ability to rationalize the need to reproduce carries an even greater significance.
Through out human history, the female has been given the responsibility of choosing the best mate for herself in what scientists call natural selection.
Once this system of Natural Selection is eliminated or restricted in any society, that society will stagnate and eliminate the chance of the society to progress in any direction.
An arranged marriage can be wrapped in any shape or form but one fact is for sure, it is a Forced arrangement, which effects the deep down fabric of society.
The Animal Kingdom
Opposition to this section
I am fully aware that the biggest objection supporters of Forced Marriage would mention at this point would be that “HUMANS ARE NOT ANIMALS” and they will shun the rest of the article. This would only be due to the myopic views and the brainwashing of society as well a strong ego where there is a need to consider oneself superior to everything else and any similarities are to be strongly opposed.

Examples from the Animal Kingdom
A good example of this would be from the animal kingdom where the Male works to gain he attention of the female and the best male available to the female has the best chance to reproduce with that female.
The male which is either week or sick, hence the male who has some physical or genetic problem does not get a chance to mate and is eliminated from the gene pool.
Nature has instilled a very intricate and a well balanced system to provide for natural selection. Both male and female excrete a number of chemicals, most of them tuned to attract the opposite sex.
These chemicals produced are as unique to each individual as finger prints; these chemicals affect each and every living thing on the planet in a different way.
We have all experienced an immediate like or dislike of another individual on the first meeting. The released chemicals along with the visual stimulation (this can be positive or negative) are responsible for this immediate like or dislike.

Arguments for Forced Marriages
You fall in love “after” you get married
One of the biggest arguments or reasoning given for Arranged / Forced Marriages is that it is not a whole lot different then a marriage by natural selection.
The only difference which is mentioned is that the couple falls in love after you have taken the vows.
People are quick to give examples of certain exceptions where statistical coincidences have occurred and the couple was compatible to begin with. These people do not look at the bigger picture and are happy to point out these rare cases and willingly jump into a forced marriage.
This is kind of behavior is more akin to playing “Russian roulette” in the most important decision in a humans life. The person gets married and then finds out if the person they have married is compatible with them or not.
These same people will spend hours if not months to decide which car they would by but they will readily get married to someone without every having contact with this person before they make the decision.
These days, some more progressive parents have starting allowing a bit of contact which might include a few telephone conversations but not much more.
Union of Two Families
One of the biggest reasons which is given in favor of arranged marriages is that it is a Union of two families. One of the misconceptions is that in case someone has a love marriage the two families can not unite. This can ONLY happen if the Parents force their children to marry.
This reasoning holds true for any kind of marriage, especially love where the union is forged in love, understanding and friendship rather than a few minutes discussion between the parents or their agents.
In any good marriage, both families are brought together and a marriage is always a union of two families.
The people who use this argument fail to see that by highlighting this point they are showing their shallowness and myopic view that only a union of two families can occur if an arranged marriage is performed.
Getting married without the permission of parents
The closed societies where Arranged / Forced marriages are practiced the mindset has been developed that Natural Selection would be synonymous to eloping.
That is and should not be the case,
The society has evolved with such huge egoistic ideas that each and every person considers himself / herself extremely superior to anyone younger.
The society works at reducing the self-esteem of the young to the extent that they are forced to shut the creative part of their minds and just accept the role of followers.
Instead of nurturing the young mind to get ready for the life ahead by grooming the young to make good decisions the young are told just to follow like zombies and not to question anything an adult says.
Low Divorce rate
This is the most prevalent argument given for getting into a arranged marriage.
The low divorce rate in a Closed culture are NOT due to the ability of the couple to get a divorce but is more closely related to
Ø The lack of the ability to make your own choice
Ø The prevalent Stockholm syndrome[i]
Ø The stigma of getting a divorce.
Ø The negative image Divorce has in these cultures
Ø The inability of the parents to re-provide a large dowry
Ø The ever present financial burden on both the groom and the bride
In a majority of marriages, in these marriages it would be better to get a divorce than to live in a unhappy relationship where one of both partners have nothing in common with each other.
The Catch 22
In the society prevalent in most of the Islamic countries these days the people have perfected the Catch 22 to the Divorce rate. The Religion does permit Divorce but there is such a big stigma attached to getting a divorce that no one can think of getting a divorce.
The reason for a low divorce rate not due to the fact that the people are not allowed to get / give a divorce but if someone gets a divorce he / she is considered a lower class of citizen and is shunned by society.
If nothing else it is considered that there must be something very wrong with that person (especially if it is the female) and it is very difficult for that person to get married again.
Black list
Very often the stigma of a Divorcee at home will “black list “the whole family and the chances of the younger siblings getting married will be hampered if not completely eliminated. So the elder sister will sacrifice her happiness to make sure that her younger sisters do get married and will endure extreme abuse and unhappiness and put on a happy face in public while going through her private hell.
Economic Factors
Dowry: Marrying off a girl in most of these societies is a very expensive proposition. The Mother will start collecting the girls dowry for a very young age and will make sure that the future In laws are happy, more than that the matter of Ego comes in here to a very big extent, a big dowry will increase the families standing in the eyes of the relatives so, from birth the struggle to collect a dowry is on the top of a mothers mind. Jewelry, household items, clothing everything is collected and the whole family lives in deprivation because the needed items of daily use are set aside and not used.
Mehr: On the flip side, the Groom is forced to agree to a huge amount of “Mehr” or money to be paid to the bride after the marriage and becomes mandatory if the groom decides to divorce the bride. This amount large, usually to the tune of five to ten years of the grooms income. If the divorce does happen any court in the country will summarily accept Mehr as a Pre Nuptial and will order the groom to pay that off and in case the money is not available it will have to be borrowed or personally property sold to fulfill this obligation.
The family members on both sides will have lengthy and sometimes heated arguments over this issue. The brides family will make sure that this amount is as large as possible so that the groom feels hostage to the amount and is forced to treat the bride right, in other worlds the groom is forced to accept a financial burden.
Wedding celebrations: except for the Dowry and Mehr, the wedding is a lengthy and expensive proposition. The brides family is forced to endure most of the expense and in most cases the brides family does borrow a lot of money to full fill the ever present Ego of the in laws as well as to show off to the society. In case a divorce does happen, the family will have to endure this burden again.
Second marriage
The Ego issues with the men in the culture which require that the woman be a Virgin on the wedding night, the egoistic need of the man to be the ONLY ONE in the BRIDES life reduces the choices a divorced woman has to remarry.
Usually, if the second marriage does happen, it happens in the following ways
Love Marriage
Now that the woman is no longer a Virgin and has been stuck with the sigma of a Divorcee, the woman shrugs the restrains of society, the blackmail of the relatives and becomes a bit more open and finds someone who has broken the shackles of Ego and the shackles of a closed society. These marriages are usually successful
Marriage of convenience
The divorcées scum to the taunts and looks of the relatives and acquaintances and accepts the first proposal which comes along, usually this proposal is from a widower who is in need of a Nanny and sexual release.
These proposals are rarely refused and the woman goes along with this marriage to eliminate the ever present taunts and sideways glances and behind that back talk of all the relatives especially the parents.
Reasons for divorce when forced marriages happen
Lack of a dowry
In a number of cases, the brides family has promised more dowry then they can deliver and the grooms family decides that they have been financially cheated and their ego has been bruised. This is a big enough crime that the marriage is called off and the wedding contract is considered null and void, this is a very good reason for not paying the Mehr as well.
No bleeding on the wedding night
More than anything else the girl is required to have an intact hymn on her wedding night[1], in the South Asian society the brides wedding dress is red for this particular reason, she is supposed to bleed and the blood can be absorbed very well on her red dress.
In case this hymn is not present, this would be a completely acceptable reason for the groom to claim that the woman is not a virgin and a perfect reason to divorce the woman.
It does not matter that this hymn can be broken all throughout childhood due to a number of reasons which could be as subtle as ridding the bike, horse back ridding or even an accident.
One of the major issues with bleeding is also that the Groom has to have his Ego stroked that the woman has to be a virgin to be acceptable to him.
Honor / Ego Killings
It is very common that if a bride is suspected of loosing her hymn before her wedding night the father or brother of the bride will get into an Egoistic rage and kill the bride for her infringement of the honor of the family.
Thousands of cases of such honor killings are prevalent in any closed society which show the shallow thing and mistrust of the females in any such society.
Suicide by the bride / girl
In a recent conversation with an extremely intelligent and educated college graduate she mentioned in an off hand remark that she would have no problem with committing suicide in case she was to loose her hymn before her wedding night.
Even after we discussed this comment with her and talking to her that any kind of suicidal tendencies are a clear indication of major ingrained psychological issues she was happy with her decision and would not even think of changing her mind on the issue
Methods of forcing a marriage
The main issue which comes into play in forcing a marriage is the lack of the parent’s ability and training in teaching their children right from wrong.
It is an easy way to go about life. This eliminates the need to treat each and every child as an individual and groom each and every child as such.
The rules are applied as a blanked on everyone and the parents accept this as normal.
Each individual childs uniqueness is squashed and any deviation from the normal is considered rebellion and is treated extremely harshly[2]
Ego of the Parents
Most societies where Forced marriages are practices, we notice that the society is driven more by an EGO then by rational thinking. The Ego of the parents comes into play on every single turn of the Childs life. This ego is so huge that the parents will become blind and will refuse to let the children make any decisions of their own. All their lives the children are put down, degrades and told that they are children and have no clue as to what right from wrong is and thy are supposed to follow every word the elders say without question.
This becomes extremely obvious when the matter of marriage is concerned, more often than not, the parents will not even ask the young person of their decision.
In case the future bride or groom, object to this union, the are told that they are DIS OBEYING their elders and this is taken as rebellion and emotional black mail starts
Emotional Black Mail
This is the most common part of an arranged marriage where the parents, especially the mothers use all avenues of Emotional Blackmail on the children to feed their Egos. In most cases, no attention is paid to the girls feelings or desires, and any opinion voiced by the girl is sunned as the words of a child who does not know anything about life.
The Bride and the Groom have been raised to completely suppress their wishes and desires and accept the word of their parents even though that person has to live with the spouse for the next 40 to 50 years.
Economic Facts
The decision and the arguments which are given a bride to be to get married to a certain guy has nothing to do with natural selection but the following reasons are usually used
Ø He has money and he will make a good provider
Ø He has a good job and will make a good husband
Ø He has a home
Ø He is from a “good” family or the term “biradri” which loosely equates to the same class

The girl might be given a chance to look at her future groom once if the parents are “Progressive” but usually the decision is made on those factors and the life and fate of the girl and in most cases the boy are sealed.
Natural Selection
Anywhere on earth, when we look at any species of animals, we see that the nature has created a system where the Female of the species makes a definite choice between whom she wants to mate. The strongest Male, the male which shows off the most, the Male which shows the promise in providing the best seed to produce the best offspring are the most sought after Males.
In some species if a new male takes over the group he even goes as far as illuminating any off springs from previous males who have lost the leadership of the group.
Human Natural Selection
Exactly in the same way as the animal kingdom, the Human race has also relied on exactly the same method. The female are the ones who have chosen their mates since the time of the Cavemen and even before to receive the seed and produce offspring
In every successful society in the world we see this same practice has been followed.
The methods of courting might be different but the purpose has remained the same.
Miss conceptions
In my conversations with people who live in a society where arranged / forced marriages are acceptable. The arguments range from the ones listed above where facts and figures are observed but not analyzed to the extreme situation such as listed below
Open Sex
The first thing which comes to the mind of a proponent and supporter of arranged marriage is that love marriage means OPEN SEX with anyone and everyone.
They will bring in exceptions and rare issues where boys and girls have acted inappropriately when left and or were alone.
None of these people will take accept the middle ground where there can be a mythology of courting without OPEN SEX.
Non Arranged marriages is considered synonymous to Eloping. Where the couple has to go and get married in secret and then face the parents.
The option that the boy meets the girl, they like each other, they talk and are sure that they will make a good couple then they introduce each other to the respective parents and get married with the blessing of both parents is completely forgotten and / or eliminated.
Devastating effects on Society
Psychological Effects
In a recent televised interview with the head of The National Psychological Association on a government sponsored and supported channel the person was stating that over 97% of people in this closed society have major psychological issues.
I was not shocked to hear these figures, this is bound to happen in any society where the normal mental growth of any human is curbed to the extent it is done in a closed society, where even talking to someone of the opposite sex is considered a SEXUAL ACT, where the most primal instincts of a human are curbed psychological issues will be rampant and will surface in every aspect of society.

I have discussed suicidal tendencies that are acceptable, condoned and even encouraged in any society.
These feelings are projected by the mother onto their children who grow up with the feelings that killing themselves is acceptable and if it could be acceptable for one reason it would be completely acceptable for a number of other reasons.
With the ground work already done by the family unit and the society as a whole all the extremists have to do is ingrain into the youth that there are a number of other reasons where this kind of behavior would be acceptable.
The society has created those same people who the society shuns in the six o’clock news as mass murderers, suicide bombers etc.
Blame others for everything
Lack of a need to inovate

Economic Impact of the Natural Process

Stagnation of Society

In both these societies we witness that within a couple of generations the desire, the need to excel, improve, to innovate has returned and in so doing the social and economic conditions of one of the poorest and improvised areas of the world has changed and now they are considered the most modern, upcoming and innovate areas of the world.

What does Islam say about Arranged marriages
Examples of Change
There are hundreds of examples of a society, moving from a Arranged Society to a society of natural selection and we see that within a couple of generations that society has done great things.
Chinese Society
In recent history we can take the example of the Chinese society as a very good example, this society had eliminated this Natural Requirement from its society for a few centuries where the women were either sold, bartered or given into “marriage” without their consent. The result was a stagnant society where Opium ruled and the Chinese nation was non existent. Right after the Chinese revolution the society
India Society
A very similar phenomena has occurred in India, especially the southern part of India where the culture has allowed and accepted the need for young men and women to meet and eventually get married.

Japanese Society
The sudden change in Pre and Post second world war Japan
Korean Society
Singaporean Society

[1] In Indonesia, the girls were going to the gynecologists to get their hymn reattached before their wedding to fulfill this requirement by the groom.
[2] Physical abuse, emotional abuse are very common. It is not far fetched to hear stories where the girl was locked in her room for months or years like an animal.
[i] Stockholm syndrome
The four hostages in the Kreditbanken robbery sympathized with their captor (right)The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in a hostage, in which the hostage exhibits seeming loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) the hostage has been put in. Stockholm syndrome is also sometimes discussed in reference to other situations with similar tensions,
such as battered woman syndrome, child abuse cases, and bride kidnapping.

Origin of the name
The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term was coined by the criminologist and psychologist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.

Capture bonding
An offshoot of the Stockholm syndrome is the aptly-used term capture-bonding defined as a bond that in some instances develops between captor
and captive. The term is modeled on the Swedish woman who became so attached to one of the bank robbers who held her hostage that she broke her
engagement to her former lover and remained bonded, or in bondage, to her former captor while he served time in prison.

Other uses
Outside of the criminal context, a form of the syndrome may take place in military basic training, in which "training is a mildly traumatic experience intended to produce a bond", with the goal of forming military units which will remain loyal to each other even in life-threatening situations.

Similarly, the effects of the "hazing" system of induction into groups such as fraternities and sororities have been compared to the syndrome. In cultural anthropology a similar symptom is common to bride capture situations.

Loyalty to a more powerful abuser — in spite of the danger that this loyalty puts the victim in — is common among victims of domestic abuse, battered partners and child abuse (dependent children). In many instances the victims choose to remain loyal to their abuser, and choose not to leave him or her, even when they are offered a safe placement in foster homes or safe houses. This syndrome was described by psychoanalysts of the object relations theory school (see Fairbairn) as the phenomenon of psychological identification with the more powerful abuser.

Evolutionary and psychoanalytic explanations
For an interpretation of the syndrome from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, see capture-bonding.

According to the psychoanalytic view of the syndrome, the tendency might well be the result of employing the strategy evolved by newborn babies to form an emotional attachment to the nearest powerful adult in order to maximize the probability that this adult will enable - at the very least - the survival of the child, if not also prove to be a good parental figure.

Taken from WIKIPEDIA

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