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Forced Marriage Series – Damaging on all parties

The third post in the series about forced marriages shows what an impact it can have on those who are forced.

Anonymous.

 

Forced marriages. Such a ugly thing. And parents need to know the damaging effect it can, no actually WILL have on their children and the relationship between parent and child. If by some miracle the marriage does work, then it won’t always be all sweetness and light and everything is hunky dory. The damage is internal. In the heart, mind and soul of the person who is forced to marry.

My story is that my parents had agreed to my marriage for a number of years before I even knew. So when the time came for the wedding to happen, if I said no then it would bring shame upon them as the other party thought that I was aware of the ‘engagement’ and were happy about it all. Not really my problem I hear you say. But when you are brought up to respect your parents and your parents have already been through so much with their other children then it get’s slightly difficult to go against them. And I guess I just wasn’t strong enough to walk away and potentially be disowned.

I guess I was lucky in that I was not physically forced. It could have been a completely different story if they were physically abusive as I don’t think I would have stood for that. It was more emotional abuse. The silent treatment,then the screaming and shouting, the swearing. The ‘lets be nice’ approach instead. And then the complete emotional blackmail, tears and what it would do to them if I didn’t agree with it. What could I do? I had no support from my siblings, they had their own issues. And it was basically go ahead with it or be disowned. So I went ahead with it. Thinking it would be relatively easy to divorce in the UK if he turned out to be a complete div.

photo credit: hamidijaz via photopin cc photo credit: hamidijaz via photopin cc

Once of the issues that makes it difficult with arranged marriages is that alot of them are done ‘back home’. This leads to a number of issues, including language. My first language is English. Although I can speak my ‘home’ language, I’m not at that comfort level where I can have a deep and meaningful conversation with my husband. The other issue basically is being brought up in different environments means we have different thoughts and processes. Different ideas on marriage and bringing up children.

Being forced to marry had more of an effect on me than I realised. I was bitter without knowing it. Any argument with my husband and I would sit there thinking that I had never wanted to marry him anyway and daydreaming about what my life could have been like if I had had the courage to walk away from my family when they were marrying me off. Picking minor faults just because I hadn’t chosen him as a husband; it was like I was purposefully looking for the bad in him and still do.

And ultimately my relationship with my parents suffered. On the surface it looks like things are fine. But the cracks are there and the cracks continue to grow. They may try to give me advice and I immediately think they are trying to control my life. They suggest I do something and I will do the opposite because I don’t want them telling me what to do, forcing me to marry was enough.

The pain and hurt always stays with you. The thought that their honour was more important than their child’s happiness; that they were willing to be emotionally abusive to get what they wanted. And then once the marriage happens you are told not to bother them with any issues as it is no longer their problem.

Parents really need to think twice before doing this. Is a forced marriage really worth the heartache? Is it worth losing your child’s love and respect? And for the Muslim parents out there the practice isn’t even Islamic so in effect they are sinning for doing this.

We need to work together to wipe this out and save future generations from suffering with forced marriages.

 

If you would like to share your story with us then please do not hesitate to contact me in the strictest of confidence

 

Forced Marriages – A different perspective

When you hear about forced marriages, the focus is pretty much always on the person who is actually being forced to marry. Sometimes we forget that there is another victim; the other partner who may not actually be being forced to marry and has no idea that their future spouse is not happy.

Being forced to marry effects you emotionally, and you won’t necessarily bond with your spouse, making married life very difficult. I would like to say a big thank you to the latest sister who has shared her story for my forced marriages series. Thank you for making us think of the bigger picture.

photo credit: frankselmo via photopin cc
photo credit: frankselmo via photopin cc

Forced marriages are more complicated and heart breaking than we think. I’m going to talk about a victim of a forced marriage who actually wasn’t the one that was forced to marry but she was the one someone was forced to marry. Confused? Read on.

Usually when we hear about forced marriages, we think lots of girls who have been married off without their consent. But there exists a form of forced marriage in the Asian community which we don’t know much about. And that is when a son is asked to get married according to his parents likes/dislikes. It’s a known fact, sons usually get what they want so the idea of them being forced to do something comes across silly. But it happens. And I’m living in a marriage where my husband was, according to him forced to marry me. He didn’t want to marry within his own community but that’s what his family wanted. Right after we got married he told me he was forced stated that I couldn’t expect any form of happiness from him because his heart isn’t in the marriage.

I on the other hand came into the marriage thinking I’m doing it the right way by having an arranged marriage, someone my parents have picked and was looking forward to starting a new life. But this was not to be the case.

I was emotionally and financially neglected in my marriage. He told me he behaved in this manner to make me end the marriage and leave him. It caused me much heartache but I didn’t want to give up and thought I should stick by it in hope of something good.

But the truth is no matter how much happiness you think you’ll gain over time and through acceptance, it just doesn’t happen.

The fact that my husband never wanted to marry me is something that lingers in our lives. Over 7 years together and I think we’ve only learnt to live together rather than want or desire. It’s made me a very bitter person. Although my husband now tells me he has changed his view point but I find it extremely difficult to accept it and relate all that goes wrong in our marriage to the fact that he never wanted me.

It can seem like I’m not letting go, but these things affect people in ways more than what meets the eye.

I blame the lack of Islamic understanding in peoples lives the reason for forced marriages to take place. Islam is completely against such behaviour and views marriage as a back bone for a healthy society that produces loving children who grow up to be obedient slaves. And all this is affected in the long run when people take the steps of forcing someone to get married. They just don’t realise to what extent it affects a person and their whole future. I tried to do the sensible thing and didn’t end my marriage but now I’m living with the consequences of a broken heart and a very insecure mind. Even now I stay awake at night sometimes wondering if I could turn back the clocks I would marry someone else. This kind of thinking is not unhealthy but unIslamic but I feel the cause of it is because someone didn’t think what forcing a marriage would do.

My plea to all reading this, when you get married please do find out exactly what the other person wants. And to those that think it’s ok to convince someone to marry a person they don’t want to: NO, IT’S NOT O.K!

You ruin more than one life and in a forced marriage there are more victims than we think.

 

 

If you would like to participate in my series and share your story then please feel free to contact me in the strictest of confidence

Forced Marriage Series

Lately I have been thinking about forced marriages a lot.

What I want to do now is feature peoples stories on the blog.

To show the heart ache a forced marriage can cause.

To show the conflict people can feel, torn between their desire to keep their parents happy, and to themselves be happy.

To show the after affects on the forced parties.

And hopefully this will help make people think twice before doing this to their children.

I hope that as the new generation, this is something that we would not dream of ever putting our children through.

photo credit: hamidijaz via photopin cc photo credit: hamidijaz via photopin cc

The first story to be shared is via a sister who found the strength not to be forced into marrying someone she didn’t want to and alhamdulillah is now happy:

 

My parents divorced when I was about 8 months old and my mother went on to remarry when I was about 3. This time into a different cast which her family did not approve of.

I grew up not knowing anything until the age of 16 when my mother was put under pressure to tell me who my father is. I chose to have no ties with the biological father. Anyhow, marriage age came and my maternal grandfather was adamant on getting me  married into that side of the family as it was a shame upon the family if I married into my dads (stepfather) family. Grandad tried every trick in the book. even to the point where he threatened my mum. This put me off even more as being headstrong I was not having any of this. I had already my mind on whom I was to marry.

My grandad made me look like a liar in front of my mum when I told her how he woke me in the middle of the night and begged me to marry his friends son; a police officer. Such a tough time I faced but I was lucky that I had the ‘choose your life partner’ option from my parents.

Alhamdulillah for my husband. Everyone has their ups and downs but I cannot fault him in any way! I feel it is very important to have your parents support. Had my  mum listened to my granddad, I know for sure I would have suffered as men on her side of the family are women beaters and think that is what makes them a man. Now my brother and sister are at that again my parents have given them the option.

As far as I am aware, forcing a child is just wrong. It isn’t even part of our religion, just a cultural practice which has unfortunately taken and ruined many lives and will continue to do so………

If you have a story you would like to share then please do feel free to contact me. All stories will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

Forced Marriages

I have had to edit this post as it had personal information in and as my blog is no longer anonymous, (I have been discovered), I have had to edit it to remove any personal references.
22/12/2011

Asalaam Alaikum

So time for another serious blog post I think! Forced marriages to me is parenting gone wrong!!
Forced marriages tend to hit the headlines a lot and unfortunately are a common ocurrance. Alot of the time the parents think they are doing the right thing by their child and that they have picked the best spouse possible. However sometimes it can be to do with land issues etc.  Please note arranged marriages are different to forced marriages.
I see it all too often in forums I browse…. ‘My parents want me to marry so and so but I don’t want to. What should I do?’
The usual reply is islamically no-one can force you so just say no. It is your right to say no.
If only it was as easy as that.
It is simple for brothers and sisters to sit in the comfort of their own homes tapping away at their PC’s and laptops and saying ‘Hey no problem, you just have to say no.’ They probably have not been put in this situation and unlikely (inshAllah) to be put into this position so it’s easy for them to say that.
One comment from a sister totally infuriated me. It was something along the lines of well if you go ahead and get married willingly to keep your parents happy then it’s not really forced is it?? How naive. She does not know what this sister may be going through. 
The purpose of this post really is to reach out to any sisters who may be going through something similar and to show them they are not alone. Also to show the term ‘forced’ isn’t as clear cut as being physically dragged by your hair kicking and screaming. 
If anyone just wants someone to listen to them then I can offer my ear! 
Also if any of you are being forced into a marriage then you can also get help from this organisation: Forced Marriage Unit
It is going to be difficult to wipe out forced marriages even though islamically it is incorrect.

Hijab Series: Hijab story, commitment not restriction!

Following on from my forced marriage series, I got the idea of doing a series on hijab after I posted a picture of Bee on my FB with a scarf draped over her and received comments that we were brainwashing our children. So I wanted to do a series of posts to show what hijab means to us, that we are not all forced to wear it; nor are we oppressed by wearing it.

I am pleased to be able to share this wonderful post by Umm Yusra as the first post in this series. She has shared her hijab story and eloquently explained what hijab means to us. 

photo credit: Capturing the moment via photopin (license)
photo credit: Capturing the moment via photopin (license)

 

“… Let them draw their head-coverings (khumur) over their necks and bosoms (juyub). And let them not display their charms to any but their husbands…” (Nur:31)

The hijab: a controversial piece of fabric that almost everyone has a viewpoint on, yet millions of Muslim women around the world wear it with a commitment that is unmatched.

This is a brief story of how I came to wear the hijab and what it means to me.

 I was 11 when I first started wearing the hijab. I have no idea why I did, because my mum didn’t and neither did anyone else I actually knew at the time. But I liked the idea and wore it to school.

Throughout the 5 years in secondary school I wore it on and off but mostly on. There was no real Islamic reasoning behind my hijab therefore it didn’t matter to me when it came off. (Astaghfir’Allah)

Then at the age of 16 I got more interested in Islam and decided that it was something I needed to wear all the time. My conviction for the hijab became stronger when I went to university. It became a part of me. I didn’t think twice about it being on my head despite the many anti-hijab stories the media threw at us.

And I think the most important thing to note about the hijab is that, yes, many women may wear it because it defines them, gives them identity, differentiates them for being a Muslim woman, makes them feel like they have a choice. But what makes the hijab a hijab is that it is a direct command from Allah (see Quranic verse at top). And for a Muslim, a command from Allah is not to be taken lightly.

Just like we Muslims pray five times a day, just like we earn halal money and eat halal food, all because Allah has commanded us to do so, we too wear the hijab for the same reasons.

By following the rules Allah has set for us we define our commitment to Him. We find extreme comfort in pleasing Him. We go to many lengths to do this; because our ultimate purpose in this life is to worship Him in the way He has told us to. And for this reason alone, no matter how bright the sun shines and no matter how much our heads hurt, not an inch of our hijab moves because we know that it will count for us on the Day when Allah will bring us to account for each and every action in this world.

In regards to the many nightmare stories that exist about how the hijab devalues a woman, how it is used to keep her out of sight, out of society, how it is forced upon the Muslim woman; it’s very important to note that without understanding the correct teachings of Islam, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike won’t be able to understand the reasoning behind the hijab or anything else Muslims do. It’s very easy and even shallow to look at the hijab and see it as a sign of oppression, when you don’t want to respect a person for choosing to worship the Creator.

We live in a world where the sexualisation and objectification of women has become so normal that we don’t even notice it, and I think because the purpose of the hijab doesn’t meet the criteria set by todays ‘improved’ society, people think it’s ok to point fingers at it.

It’s not OK! Because by pointing fingers at the hijab, I feel my dedication to my religion is not being taken seriously. And as a Muslim woman I feel myself having to constantly justify why I wear it and somehow fit it into what is acceptable by people who oppose it. So, no! I won’t try and make justifications for the hijab on the basis of freedom of choice or independent ideas, I’m justifying it on the basis that I love to worship my Creator and therefore choose to wear it.

So don’t look at the hijab as a form of restriction on women, look at the woman herself. And imagine how brave, how sincere and how convinced she is in hijab that it doesn’t bother her to be odd in this society, where looks are everything. She is able to escape the expectations the world throws at women to look a certain way and instead she finds joy in doing something that aids her to be a content slave of Allah.

By Umm Yusra from http://www.gildeddunya.wordpress.com

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