Monday, December 15, 2008

Women's Work is Done

I was going to post about what I learned this weekend -- which is actually fabulous, so please remind me to post about it soon. However, I was stopped short as I read the list of messages on one of the various listservs I belong to.

Among the various back-and-forth political jabs, recommendations for sari blouse taylors, and eyebrow-threading salons, there was a link to a very interesting BBC article. It was about forced marriages in the U.K. Apparently, in Britain there is a law in place that makes it an offense to make one's daughter marry against her will. I am both stunned and not at all stunned that such a law must exist. And that it is, primarily, put in effect for the South Asian community. Seriously, WTF??

My second novel, JAZZ IN LOVE, deals in part with the issue of arranged marriage. The character is clearly hip and modern and savvy, but her parents believe in arranged marriage. A situation millions of South Asian girls find themselves in.

I always hesitate when mentioning the AM aspect of my novel to folks because I'm afraid the response (as it has been once or twice) is going to be: [Groan] Not another Indian-American writing about arranged marriage! Can't we write about anything else?

And then there are stories like the one in the above link.

These things are happening today. The woman in the BBC article is thirty-three. Not sixteen or nineteen or even twenty-five. Clearly, girls and women are still being bartered and sold under the guise of various "traditions." The more we write about these issues, challenging them and perhaps making young people pause and contemplate, the better, IMO. And, clearly, we have a long way to go when the wishes of an independent, thirty-three-year-old doctor mean nothing in the eyes of her parents. When they feel completely justified and entitled to deceive her into booking a trip to India, then forcibly marrying her to someone they think she ought to be with.

I've decided I'm fine with the groans and the, "Not another Indian-American writing about..." comments. Those come from folks who maybe think the work has already been done and it's time to move on. Because, y'know, arranged marriage has been going on for thousands of years--in most cases to the detriment of women, so a dozen or so books on the subject should do it, right?

And then we have the Dogs and Women Not Allowed post on Ultra Violet. But that, of course, is for another day . . . ;)


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