There is a wide spread global dispute about the topic of arranged marriages, many arguing that it is wrong, forced, and inhuman, while others defend them stating that they are socially and traditionally correct with their societies. Both sides fight frivolously and are on complete opposite sides of the argument, but what are the facts? Are arranged marriages right or wrong?
Arranged marriages are believed to have been practiced since the dawn of man's existence, and they are still around even today, being practiced in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries (Professor's House). An arranged marriage, as defined by Paul B. Mehndiratta from the Department of Neurology is, “one where parents choose marital partners for their children.” (Mehndiratta 2007). For the most part, in ancient times, arranged marriages were used to seal a pact between two families, or in larger terms, they were used to seal a pact between countries in which two royal members were betrothed (History of Arranged Marriages 2007). In countries where arranged marriage is practiced, it is as normal as freedom of marriage is to Americans. It is an age long tradition that happened for a variety of reasons—to bring two families together, to settle a dispute, to pay a debt, or simply just because the parents thought it was best (History of Arranged Marriages 2007)The two who are arranged to be married by their parents feel that they are honoring and respecting their parents by following through with their parents requests, and besides everyone else is doing it too so it's not out of the ordinary. People who live in countries where arranged marriages are traditional don't even know what the freedom of marriage is. And that's not wrong, it is just the way that their society is.
Typically when people hear about arranged marriages they think of two people being forced to married each other against their will, solely to benefit their parents—no love, just servitude—but that is not always the case. According to Sarosh Abrar, a Hindu writer, there are two types of arranged marriages—love-arranged marriages and pure-arranged marriages. The meanings of each type are easily understood. Love-arranged marriages occur when two people love each other and their parents accept it and decide to wed them. It is basically like a normal western civilization marriage. Pure-arranged marriages are arranged entirely by the betrothed's parents for whatever reason they feel fit, and they can be arranged at any time, from when they are adults, to when they are simply children and do not understand the concepts of marriage (Abrar, Sarosh).
When many people hear of arranging a marriage when the two partners are still children, they think of “child brides,” and how horrible this is. They keep their minds narrow and only see the negative parts of arranged marriages. To a certain extent, these critics are truthful with what they say, but it does not mean that an entire civilization is full of forced marriages and child brides who later become servile slaves to their husbands. There is a large percentage of forced and unhealthy marriages. It is believed that between sixty and eighty percentage of marriages in Afghanistan are forced marriages, and there are also times, of course, then the two who are wedded are not happy or it is an unhealthy relationship. But that does not mean that every marriage in Afghanistan are forced marriages. It does not mean that just because the two who are wedded do not love each other at the time of the arrangement because they are so young won't love each other.
Yes, they may be too young, by American standards, but later as their families allow them to spend as much time as they want together and allow them to just grow together, then a strong romantic bond will most likely occur and their marriage will, I believe, be successful. In fact, divorce rates of arranged marriages in countries that support it, are dramatically lower than divorce rates of Americans, who get married because they love each other (Nita 2007) It is as Sarosh Abrar says, “First comes marriage, then comes love,” (Abrar, Sarosh)
Not to say that arranged marriages are more efficient, or better, than non-arranged marriages, I just want to defend the fact that arranged marriages are simply part of their society. It is a century old tradition that is highly respected in the Asian and Middle Eastern societies. But, as Americans—we see everything that is dramatically different from ourselves, and we disapprove of it and try to change it. We try to “Americanize” everything around us. We want everyone to dress like us, talk like us, do the same things we do, follow the same traditions as we do—basically conform to our society. Our first target was our own country when we began assimilating the Native Americans, and now we are attempting to “Americanize” the globe. One day, the whole world may be “Americanized.”
And is that a bad thing? America is, after all, the most powerful country in the world. Why wouldn't everyone else want to be like us. Well, the problem is that once everything has been “Americanized,” there won't be anymore variation in the world—there won't be any diversity. Age-old and beautiful cultures will cease to exist, and everyone will soon conform to one general society. As Chinua Achebe professes in his brilliant book's title--”Things Fall Apart.” Just like in his famous novel, the invaders, America in this case, saw people who were different than them, and they judged them as uncivilized savages. As a result, they imposed their society's rules on them and destroyed the Umoufian's traditions.
Already, the arranged marriage culture has become victim of westernization as young Hindu, Muslim, and Asian, women rebel against their parents traditions as they yearn for independence, as they yearn for the American lifestyle (Tarabay 2008). Parents who only want the best for their children, and who only want to follow the traditions that they were raised upon, are now being faced with teenagers who scoff their traditions and tell them that they are wrong to arrange a marriage for them. And where did these rebellious teenagers get the idea that arranged marriages were wrong? From Americans of course.
These teenagers of course respect their parents and want to follow obey their wishes, but as everything in America tells them that arranged marriages are wrong, they become as Jamie Tarabay states, “trapped between two cultures,” and begin to rebel against their parents wishes with their emotions in full control (Tarabay 2007). Of course if a man or woman feels that they do not want to marry someone, then they should not be forced too. Forced marriages are of course wrong, and should be looked down upon. But arranged marriages that are not necessarily forced, are not wrong. They are simply the traditional passage of marriage for certain societies. To many who practice this, it is actually right to them.
Who are we to be telling them that there lifestyle is wrong. It is way off base to believe that Americans, and people in general, will stop judging each other and trying to change each other, but it would be amazing if that happened. It is understandable that within the homeland, Americans look down upon arranged marriages because it is not part of our society, but when we extend our judgment to countries where this is practiced and we tell them they are wrong, then we in fact are the wrong ones. If a man or woman feels that their parents know what is best for them and they want to trust them with arranging their marriage, then they should not be told that that is wrong. Similarly, if someone who is being involved in an arranged marriage does not want to actually marry the person they are to be wedded to, then they shouldn't have to either. Basically, people should have the freedom of whether or not they want to arrange their marriage or if they want their parents to. They shouldn't have to deal with the pressure of others' judgment, which might ultimately change their mind.
They shouldn't be told arranged marriages are wrong because they aren't. They're just different then how people in America normally get married and that's okay. In other countries, they probably look at our society and deem it as wrong as well. It's just human nature to see diversity and think of it as wrong. If only it weren't so. Unfortunately it is. Unfortunately America will continue to “Americanize” the world. Unfortunately, one day, the world will probably conform into one society that is accepted by the masses. And maybe one day, that too will change and be seen as uncivilized. Perhaps it is all just just a cycle. Humans have been going through it since the dawn of time—monarchy was socially correct at a time, now it isn't,wearing lavish robes and dresses was at one time socially correct, now it isn't. Maybe arranged marriages and non arranged marriages are just the same—maybe they are just cycles of life that are bound to change in time. Maybe. The world is truly an ever changing place.
Abrar, Sarosh. “First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Love” Aller-Stead Education. Accessed November 6, 2011 http://www.aller-stead.com/martin/pages/FirstComesMarriage.htm
Achebe, Chinua 1958. “Things Fall Apart.”
History of Arranged Marriage. 2007. “History of Arranged Marriage” Nov 21 2007. YGOY Accessed November 5 2011 http://marriage.ygoy.com/history-of-arranged-marriage/
Mehndiratta, B. Paul. 2007. “Arranged marriage, consanguinity and epilepsy.” Neurology Asia 2007. Accessed November 5, 2011 http://neurologyasia.org/articles/20073_015.pdf
Nita. 2007 “Divorce rates of the world” A Wide Angle View of India. April 4, 2007. Accessed November 4, 2011 http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2007/04/04/divorce-rates-of-the-world/
Stritoff, Sheri and Bob. “Child Bride: The Problem of Early, Forced Marriage.” AboutMarriage. Accessed November 4, 2011http://marriage.about.com/od/arrangedmarriages/a/childbride.htm
Tarabay, Jamie. “Arranged Marriage: Trapped Between Two Cultures.” NPR. Accessed November 6, 2011 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95683604