Parents in England and Wales who force their children to marry will face jail time under newly proposed laws announced by the British government.
The plans to make forced marriage a criminal offence come after officials handled over 2,000 possible cases of people coerced into matrimony since January 2011, the home office said on Friday.
According to a home office consultation on forced marriages, more than half of cases in England and Wales involved women from Pakistan, while cases involving women from Bangladesh and India accounted for another 20 per cent of the total.
“Forced marriage is abhorrent and is little more than slavery,” said David Cameron, the British prime minister, said. “To force anyone into marriage against their will is simply wrong and that is why we have taken decisive action to make it illegal.”About 35 per cent of marriages involved girls under 18 years old, while 13.5 per cent involved girls who were 16 or under.
The government hopes to introduce the legislation to parliament by 2014, the home office said. The scale of sentences that could be handed out will be detailed in the legislation.
The move came after the consultation which took views from the public, charities and victims. Theresa May, the UK home secretary, described forced marriage as an “appalling practice” in a statement.
Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom Charity, a UK-based organisation which campaigns against forced marriages, acknowledged that there might be difficulty in convincing women to come forward.
“But if you look at England, 30 years ago, we had the same argument about domestic violence,” she told Al Jazeera. “When we talk about forced marriage, we’re talking about abuse.”These statements are often said by parents to reject a marriage proposal, and often leave their children wondering: are you serious?
In Islam we are taught that marriage and the responsibilities that come with it complete half our deen, and we are encouraged to marry as soon as one is capable of doing so.
So then why are the people who are supposed to be facilitating our marriages, and helping us form one of the most beautiful, lasting relationships in our life, preventing us from it?
According to Bukhari, our beloved Prophet (pbuh), a man whose wisdom and knowledge transcends that of anyone today, told us, “A woman can be married for four reasons: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty, and her religion. Seek the one with religion.”
Sadly, these days religion seems to take a backseat when it comes to determining whether a person is suitable to marry into a family. Instead, factors such as culture, profession, skin color and even height take precedence. There is nothing wrong with considering these factors, as they are things that can be looked at when making marriage decisions, but they should not take precedence over everything else. If a person has strong deen, good character and is compatible with a potential spouse, then parents should facilitate the marriage, not hinder it.
This subject is of such importance that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) spoke directly about it. As noted by Tirmidhi, he said, “When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks to marry your daughter, comply with his request. If you do not do so, there will be corruption and great evil on Earth.”
This is not to say that the girl has no say in the matter or that the parents should accept the first guy that comes along. Rather, parents should strongly consider these qualities in a suitor, and they should not expect to find the “perfect” match.
We can see this exact corruption playing out in our society today, with rejected marriage proposals leading many people away from the religion and into troubled situations.
I find Islam to be liberating not oppressive: women are partners. Islam is the first religion which systematically empowered women when they were considered as totally subservient to man. There was no concept of her being an independent entity and enjoying equal right with dignity. We live in a country where women are over-sexualised and […]GEPIMA) MOHD BIN KATHER ALL WHEN DID MARRIAGE CEASE TO BE A PARTNERSHIP AND BECOME A BROKERSHIP?
One example is a young man and a young woman who I know were very interested marrying one another, but the young man’s parents did not allow him to marry the young woman because she was not Palestinian. The young woman, after losing her biggest spiritual supporter, felt emotionally devastated and betrayed by Islam. This experience impacted her to such an extent that she refused to talk to potential suitors with Muslim parents and later married a non-Muslim.
I know another young woman who, through a friend, was introduced to a young man for purposes of marriage. The young woman told her parents soon after they started talking, but her parents refused to meet him. The young woman continued to talk to the young man, and after finding that they were very compatible, finally, convinced her parents to meet him. The parents still turned him down because they thought he was too short, unattractive and his job was not “professional” enough.
Do not get me wrong. Parents are an important part of the marriage equation, and they should be involved in the process from the beginning. However, because parental opinion is so important in the Muslim marriage process, most Muslims want parental blessing before marrying someone and many are finding it difficult to get that blessing. That is why parents must understand the Islamic marital requirements and their children’s needs in a spouse.
We are told so much about how parents have rights over their children, but children have rights over their parents, too. Parents need to discuss issues with their children, not simply make all the decisions in their life. We see one of the finest examples of this with Prophet Ibrahim. When he had dreamt that Allah (swt) told him to sacrifice his son, he told his son about the dream so he could get his thoughts on the matter. He did not order him to lie down so he could kill him or deny him a say in the matter. He had a sensible conversation with his son, who was ready to cooperate fully, but was replaced with the sacrifice of an animal instead.
Young Muslims are often told to reject the norms common in American society today, such as dating and pre-marital sex. However, if we are expected to avoid these situations and live according to the ideals of Islam, then parents need to make it easier for us to get married. Show us the advantages and disadvantages of certain courses of action. Guide us through the process of finding a spouse with good character. Do not simply reduce the process to finding a “slim fair-skinned girl” or a “tall Pakistani doctor.”
Subhanallah for all the comments and indeed a sad reality it is but my dear brothers and sisters we have to realize that these are values embedded within the deep fabrics of society and culture that our parents grew up with. Their deen would’ve been limited to practising Salah, Siyam and the Proclamation of the Shahadah with Hajj and Umrah and Zakat. On the outset, if you ask anyone uncle, anty, father, mother, elder brothers / sisters…..THIS is the extent to which your deen is….but Allah SWT has blessed the youth of this ummah and im very very happy Allhumdulillah to see my brothers and sisters who truly understand the meaning of practising Islam in its truest of sense making their efforts to please Allah. We have to be grateful to Allah SWT to have blessed us with the understanding of this beautiful deen. Allhumdulillah.
I too tried convincing my parents right from the time I was about to graduate. Things I heard were: You’re too young, you don’t have a job, nobody will entrust you their daughter and you have to first stand up on your own two feet. See in the pakistani culture, I don’t know if this happens anywhere else, the guy is expected to be self-made, with a good status (family or business) and should display a mix of cultural, religious and modern values. This cocktail of a guy is supposedly the best suitor to our parents. I wasn’t either. Allhumdulillah though that today I’m married and well-off with a loving and caring hijabi wife. May Allah preserve us ameen.
To my unmarried brothers and sisters I would just say one thing that really got me through the time it took me to convince my parents is: I just used to say one thing to myself: Allah SWT has written my story, and knows who my spouse is and will be, I needn’t worry about it but whoever she is and wherever she is, may Allah bless her and keep her happy and bring us together soon. Inshallah I hope this will help you as well. Ameen.
UMAR (MAY GOD BE PLEASED WITH HIM) USED TO SAY, ‘MAY GOD GRANT HIS MERCY TO A MAN WHO SHOWS ME MY FAULTS’. AND HE USED TO ASK SALMAN ABOUT HIS FAULTS WHEN THEY MET, SAYING, ”WHAT THINGS HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT ME THAT YOU FIND DISLIKEABLE?’ SALMAN PLEADED TO BE EXCUSED ANSWERING THIS BUT […]readmoreMALAYSIAN INDIAN MUSLIM MEN GET MARRIED FOR DOWRY AND ABANDON/DIVORCE THEIR WIVES