Arranged marriages

I find it difficult to see how anyone could possibly approve of arranged marriages. In an arranged marriage, the bride and groom are selected by a third party rather than each other. Arranged marriages are most common in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia – however with 55% of marriages in the world being arranged- you would be likely to find cases of arranged marriages anywhere you go. There are many different types of arranged marriages which follow all different rules and traditions to ensure it goes smoothly, but none of these allow you to pick the right partner yourself. I intend to put my personal views across, my view that arranged marriages are – and always will be –a violation against human rights. The main formula for life goes something like: have a childhood, get an education, get a job, have children, and grow old. However, many people following that formula tend to do something extreme, involuntary perhaps – fall in love. People in love will want to spend the rest of their life with the person they love, and the most logical way of ensuring this is through marriage. Marriage is a commitment shared between two people, a legal contract binding them together for life. How can people want to partake in such commitment with someone, they hardly know, let alone love?

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If a marriage is arranged by someone else, then it isn’t based on the grounds of which most marriages take place – love. Call me a romantic, but a marriage without love sounds like a very troublesome, difficult thing. By having your wedding arranged by someone else, this is taking away your free will – and furthermore denying you of the natural emotion of love. This is one of life’s many rare experiences, and I think every human should be guaranteed the free ability to get to know someone, fall in love, and as a result, get married. Through arranged marriage, you are agreeing to commit your life to someone whom you don’t know much about, by doing this, you are choosing to dedicate your whole entire life to a person – who may turn out to be nothing like you expect.

Furthermore, not everyone in the world is genuine, and a lot of people would arrange a marriage for their children or someone close to them with their own selfish concerns in mind. In under-developed countries, where lots of
people live in poverty, some parents will choose to marry off their children to people of a higher social status – increasing their own honour and wealth, and the happiness of the parents may overshadow the children’s. As much as this could be an easy escape from a hard life – we must consider the effects this could have on the people getting married. Their spouse isn’t being picked to suit them – so without common interest’s etc- there is a poor chance the couple will get on, which will then lead to an unhappy marriage and perhaps a hard life, taking the person in a broken marriage back to square one.

Subsequently, arranged marriages can have a massive impact on someone’s life before, during, and after the marriage takes place. Perhaps you may be the unlucky one – and because you don’t truly know the person you are marrying – will be exposed to a variety of problems which may be hard to escape. Some of these problems range from abuse, violence and forced sexual relationships, to name just a few. A case in the media not too long ago bears witness to a twelve year old bride (her wedding arranged) who died after struggling for three days in labour to give birth. This type of marriage is appalling, and disgusting within itself – but exposing girls to this at such a young age is absolutely repulsive and I have no idea how this can be legal. A Nationwide survey in 2005 showed that half of marriages in rural India involved brides younger than 18 – the age of consent. This lifestyle is leaving so many young girls with no real hope for life outside of marriage, with a lot of cases contracting life-threatening diseases such as HIV and aids. Also most of these young girls have to give up their education to enter a lifestyle they are not ready for, leaving them neglected with deprivation of choice. How can they escape this living nightmare? How could their parents be so cruel?

However, many people would choose to disagree with me. Especially if you’re brought up in a culture where having your marriage arranged is a common procedure, and this is all you have ever known. Despite the points I made earlier, there may be some parents who want what’s best for their children and providing they are older and wiser, less likely be impulsive in the decisions they make. Also, this may decrease any risk of family problems or
struggles. Our family’s opinions matter very dearly to us, and if they are choosing that you marry a specific person, this must mean they approve of them. This means keeping your family, community, culture and tradition happy, whilst bringing two families together as one. Also, we must remember that much of modern day arranged marriages are different from traditional arranged marriages, where the participants have no say at all. Many of the arranged marriages these days allow the couple to have unsupervised dates and get to know one another before the marriage –some aren’t so strict.

Even so, many disapproved arranged marriages still take place – through blackmail or worse – and this needs to stop. The divorce rate for arranged marriages is also much lower (around 4-6%, 10 times less than normal marriages) but whether this is due to happy marriages or more to do with the fact that they aren’t allowed to get divorced- remains unseen. To come to a conclusion, the cons of arranged marriages overweigh the pros by miles for me. I think they are an unnatural disgrace to this life, which we are supposed to be allowed free will in. Marriage is supposed to be based on commitment, love, affection and attraction – this being impossible to achieve without the chance to choose the person you want all this with. “Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry the individual you can’t live without.” – this quote from James C Dobson highlights the purpose of marriage, being not just a chance to live with each other, but a chance to ensure your love is secure for life. People are selfish, it’s a part of our nature – we can’t escape it. Our self-centred nature is the type that means our own purposes come before others, perhaps even our children’s.

Making people enter a marriage with the wrong person will leave them feeling suffocated in a relationship that might, not even, make their lives worth living. A case brought into the press has recently brought forward an 8 year old child bride that boldly went by herself to court and demanded a judge to dissolve her marriage to a man in his thirties. If that doesn’t show how disgraceful and sick arranged marriages are, then this earth surely has so sympathy or care for anyone more unfortunate than us. If an 8 year old girl can stand up for herself to defend her rights of marriage, surely the rest of us can at least have the heart to disagree with such a horrific, shameful matter – which is all arranged marriages are.

Shelley Bruce, Fraserburgh Academy
Word Count – 1259

Bibliography (Un)arranged Marriage – Bali Rai

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