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Arranged marriages? Am I naive?!

We are from a small town in Michigan, so when my teenage cousin brought her friend to a birthday party I was SHOCKED by some of the things I heard!

The friend is Iranian and was telling me that some of her cousins, as young as 11 and 12, are being "married off" because the family is poor (apparently they receive sizable money from the men when the daughters are married). She was telling me that she is getting engaged this year and will be married at 15. She said she felt special and more mature, because of all her friends, she would be the only one married.

I was shocked by this, but kind of hopeful that the girl might have been exaggerating. So, I called one of my Iraqi friends who knows about a lot of Middle Eastern cultures, and she said this is very common and she had no doubt that it was true. She added that "men are willing to pay a lot of money to marry girls who are already US citizens so they can move."

I don't even know how "marrying off" girls this young can even be legal! I am just so saddened by this! I would like to believe I am pretty open to the customs of other cultures, and that I try very hard not to think of "my" ways as the "right" way at all times. However, I am really rattled by this. I mean, at 11 or 12 years old getting married, how long will it be before the babies start coming? Have they even had a damn period yet?! How is that not parent approved rape?! With the responsibilities of a wife and mother, what is going to happen to the young girls' educations? And the fact that it seems much more like a "sale" than a "marriage", is just terribly upsetting to me.

Am I naive? Has anyone else heard more about this directly? It is just hitting way too close to home for me right now, and I feel like these poor girls need an advocate BADLY.


Asked by Mom-2-3-Girlz at 3:31 PM on Mar. 7, 2011 in Relationships

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Answers (13)
  • I also find it very sad. My sister is 13 and I couldn't imagine "marrying" her off! I know they are having sex and babies so young to and it's just sickening. I too think this should be illegal

    Answer by June_Mama09 at 3:39 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • Obvioulsy arranged marriages have been around for a long time. But the story has some holes. First of all, it's completely illegal in the US to have sex with a minor. Assuming it stays within this community, my impression (I could be wrong), the ones that actually moved to the US are the families with more means/connections. The poorer ones stay behind. So how is it the family staying in the middle east can afford to pay a family in the US? That just doesn't make any sense. I know what you described is definitely happening outside of US, but within US? That's a long shot, esp if these families came here legally and have money of their own.

    Answer by Olivia4116 at 4:53 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • yep have heard about it for years. It is their culture.

    Answer by gemgem at 3:34 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • I don't personally know anyone who has an arranged marriage, but I have heard of it.

    Answer by TARARENEE at 3:37 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • its how they do things right or wrong they have been doing it forever. like gem said it is their cultures.

    Answer by jodi205 at 3:39 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • It isn't that I haven't heard of them, or even that I haven't known adults who were part of arranged marriages, but I am just shocked at the idea that the girls are SO young and it is happening in my VERY small town. My stomach is in knots for these girls!

    Comment by Mom-2-3-Girlz (original poster) at 3:39 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • Yes I have heard of it too, and IF this is what is going on it is illegal and someone who is a responsible adult should call the law because it is NOT legal here in the USA. to me those men are nothing but sick and should be banned from coming to the States. YUCK!

    Answer by AmI88 at 3:40 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • Oh and if they are doing this in the States sounds more like the parents are "selling" their children rather than marring them off because they can't here and they can't at that age.

    Answer by AmI88 at 3:41 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • I have heard of it too. These girls don't get any kind of education, they are just slaves, they have babies and do as they are told to do. They are treated like animals. It is very sad.

    Answer by stitchintime at 4:37 PM on Mar. 7, 2011

  • My Iraqi girlfriend is 26 or 27 and fights her father tooth and nail on getting married because she wants to choose her own husband. He basically told her that once she and the man she wants to marry finish school, they can get married...but they can still never will be straight to marriage.

    If she goes through that at 26...and she seriously has to work up the guts to fight, plus her parents are nowhere near as strict as some...I just can't imagine a child of 12 having the ability to fight for themselves. Or maybe even recognize what their options are. I am just so sad for them!

    Comment by Mom-2-3-Girlz (original poster) at 4:42 PM on Mar. 7, 2011