Saturday, October 01, 2011

Challenging family traditions

Kudos to this Australian kid:

A COURT has placed a 16-year-old girl on the airport watch list to prevent an arranged marriage taking place in Lebanon.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, applied to the Federal Magistrates Court for an order to restrain her parents from taking her out of Australia to marry a man she had met only once.

The girl, given the pseudonym Ms Madley by the court, approached the Legal Aid Commission after her parents organised the wedding despite her telling them that she did not want to go to Lebanon and did not want to marry the man.
Mr Harman praised the girl's ''act of great bravery'' in using the legal system to challenge her parents' authority.
Ms Madley was fearful of her mother's reaction to her application, he said, and he ordered her mother and father not to assault, harass, threaten or intimidate her, or question her about the proceedings.

''Her actions in approaching the Legal Aid Commission, let alone this court, might be perceived as disrespectful of her parents and disobedient of their will,'' he said.

Although legally a minor, the girl had displayed maturity not only by taking action to protect herself from an arranged marriage, but deciding to challenge part of the Lebanese Islamic culture which she was brought up in. (Sydney Morning Herald)

In another article from the same newspaper someone says that arranged marriages are not necessarily a bad thing:

    Lyn Fletcher, from Relationships Australia, said there was a big difference between arranged marriages and those which are forced.

    "Some people are happy with an arranged marriage, because that's how they've been brought up they don't have any expectations of falling in love or romantic attachment," she said.

This doesn't really cast arranged marriages in any kind of a positive light. So arranged marriages are not that bad because women in some cultures have learned to live with them, i.e., have learned not to question the system? They've merely accepted their fate of having to live in a suffocating environment for the sake of the (extended) family, not because they want it.

It's precisely for this reason that it's good that this Australian case has gained some publicity, making it to the news even here in Finland. No doubt the city where I live is filled with dozens of immigrant women who think they have no choice but to submit to the authority of their families. These people should be made aware of the fact that there's a life beyond the role your family had decided for you the moment you were born.

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." -Howard Roark, The Fountainhead

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