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A recent report by the Middle East Research Institute highlighted the practice in rural Pakistan of girls as young as a year old being married off by their parents to adult men. The reasons vary from so-called cultural traditions, debt settlement, exchange for land or dowry, or to settle a dispute between families. Most of these cases are not reported to the police, which many Islamic clerics justify because it avoids "dishonour" in the family. Unfortunately, in Britian cultural relativists and liberals sympathetic to some forms of Sharia law, also support the right of Islamists to police their own communities and override the rule of law.

Maryam Namazie, an Iranian feminist and spokesperson for One Law For All, which campaigns against Sharia, believes that forced marriage is one of the main problems for Muslim girls and women. "In a place like Afghanistan a majority of females are in prison for ‘moral' crimes, including refusing to marry the man chosen by their families," she says. "This is increasingly a problem for women and girls here in Britain, especially with the rise of Sharia courts, which validate and rubber-stamp forced marriages."

Criminalising forced marriages won't end the practice overnight, admits Namazie but, as other supporters of the change have argued, criminalising domestic violence did not end violence against women in the home, and drink-driving still leads to death on the road despite the penalties. "But it will be an important start in battling it and making clear what is intolerable in our society. And it will help to protect countless citizens."

For Aisha Gill, it is vital to hear the victims. "The message does suffer if there are no prosecutions, as the perpetrators think they can get away with it. But I have a problem with stand-alone legislation that only targets certain communities."

Therein lies the liberals' dilemma. They don't want to single out the Muslim community for criticism but end up supporting the patriarchs and condemning young women to a life of unhappiness and servitude. They should know better.  

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May 23rd, 2012
10:05 PM
"...liberals sympathetic to some forms of Sharia law" if they are moral relativists, then they are NOT liberals, the liberal position is that we are all equal before the law, NOT separate laws for different cultures. Moral relativists are just that: moral relativists. Moral relativists are not liberals.

April 21st, 2012
3:04 PM
The European Court also overruled a British Law restricting forced marriages seemingly on the grounds that the right of men to a family life overrides the right of young women to be abducted.

January 21st, 2012
6:01 PM
Tell the liberals that the religion is christianity and the women are being sent to Utah and they'll do everything they can to stop it.

January 20th, 2012
2:01 AM
No surprises that white "feminists" are more than ready to throw women under the bus when a non-Western tradition or culture is involved. Similarly, in the US, NOW deserted Nicole Brown & sided with the black "leadership" consensus that OJ was targeted by the "racist" LAPD. This is where moral relativism leads the ironic sight of morally-righteous "progressives" sacrificing those they claim to champion. The same people who wouldn't countenance certain behaviors by their native citizenry, look the other way or merely pay lip service when such behaviors are committed by the "other." Multicultural piety serves as penitence for Western liberal guilt.

January 19th, 2012
2:01 PM
The study by Aisha Gill is misrepresented as "evidence" in this article. In fact, it is just a survey of the viewpoints expressed by the women's organisations that responded. Several of these organisations have insisted for years that criminalising forced marriage will put victims off reporting, but their assumptions are not backed up by any actual evidence from victims. In fact, as the young woman quoted in your article shows, some victims are strongly in favour of criminalisation. This point is also made in this blog Secondly, something like 44 per cent of organisations surveyed were actually in favour of criminalisation, which is a sizeable chunk. It's a shame those voices weren't heard in this article. Karma Nirvana, a charity which helps hundreds of victims of forced marriage each year, is among those in favour of forced marriage, as is the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation which also helps forced marriage victims and honour violence. For those victims who don't want to prosecute their parents, they don't have to. As with domestic violence, if a woman decides not to cooperate with the police or to withdraw a statement a prosecution rarely goes ahead.

January 15th, 2012
9:01 PM
Wow, what a totally one dimensional way of thinking. The long and short of it is: if you are moving to or living in a western country you have the right as an individual to choose whether you want to participate in forced marriages or not. Quite obviously, your family or anyone else in your community may not agree with your decision and you as an indivudal will have to deal with that. You will probably be disowned and bring shame to your family but that is the consequence for bucking the cultural trend. The law should be there to protect your decision but should never enforce the widespread abolition of forced marriages. That is where our western bias oversteps its boundaries and imposes itself upon foreign "barbaric" cultural traditions, despite support or denouncement of multiculturalism. Either way, what a horrible article.

Sakib Hameed
January 8th, 2012
10:01 PM
what a daft article! This article completely dodged the notion that 'honour' killings happen globally under different guises. There are men who murder their daughter's boyfriends and in one case in Canada, killed a lesbian daughter and her mother! Yet their religion is not mentioned at all and nor is their ethnic background! The term 'honour' is only attached to crimes committed by Asian and African ethnic minorities and particularly Muslims despite the world saying otherwise. Also, to blame this on 'shariah' despite the fact that Islam doesn't permit forced marriages combined with the fact that forced marriages happen in plenty of non Muslim communities too, proved that this author really doesn't seem to know what she is talking about!

December 22nd, 2011
11:12 AM
This is a good move forward. All females of society should be protected at all levels.

December 21st, 2011
4:12 PM
Brave lady!!

December 21st, 2011
3:12 PM
Good article!

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