See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Arranged marriage & the role of parents

A sarcastic post of a vibrant Bangladeshi-Canadian girl:

If this daughter is not married to some Muslim guy (she is ‘permitted’ to bring a Pakistani guy *horror*) by next August, …she will apparently be seeing Mrs. Mother's dead face. If you want to save the life of a 40 something, attractive, slightly dramatic Bengali mother …apply now.
Applicant must be:
- virile
- a Bengali Muslim
- able to sign his name
- from a nice family who like to keep their woman on a leash.

People may laugh because of the comic elements of the post, but if you read in between the lines you will hear the wails of a free bird about to be caged. How can she confront her mother who had sworn such thing?

She ends with:
Apply now and don't let forever bind you together. Please note that applicant is allowed a leave of absence of ‘eternity’ from married life starting the same day following a wedding band exchange ceremony.

Yes this is the tragedy of many arranged marriages when fixed arbitrarily by the South Asian parents. When parents go looking for a spouse for their child they usually consider superficial criteria like religion, ethnicity, financial condition and even horoscope. In absence of pre-existing mutual attraction of the partners or even some sort of communication and understanding before reaching at the final decision to marry, is horrifying for a smart and educated individual. And often they end up with a uncomfortable relationship they had never dreamt of. I hope Mrs. Mother reads her daughter's post.

Much have been discussed about arranged marriage here, here & here.

  • http://rezwanul.blogspot.com Rezwan

    The definition of arranged marriage in Wikipedia.

  • http://tanm.blogspot.com tanm

    there was a piece of prose in our english text book in school, about arranged marriage in the indian subcontinent. I still remember the title:
    “A blind date and a color tv”.

  • http://nehasri.blogspot.com Neha

    Is there any marriage that isn’t arranged? Is love as un-arranged and spontaneous really? Aren’t most relationships dictated, even in most liberal of countries by common racial backgrounds, equal economic status and by standards that they meet – of conventional success, beauty and power?

    This is not to say that parent-arranged marriages are not stifling. But perhaps what I am trying to push this conversation towards understanding if girls in other countries and cultures really have a greater choice? In actuality? In absolute terms of living life without make-up, high heels or under-performing to attract attention.

    My two paisa…

  • http://www.lulu.com lulu

    im doing a project on this

  • Pingback: ThaRum :: www.tharum.info » Blog Archive » Arranged Marriage in Preserved Culture of Cambodia

  • Cyno

    My boyfriend of the past 3 years is getting married next week. he has never met the girl, but she is his second-cousin, she has never worked and has a deep desire to come to Canada.
    His uncles and her parents made the arrangements. They felt they would be a great match. He is 8 years older than her, and knew her from family getherings growing up. He has never told them about me. He told me 4 months ago that he is engaged. I was devastated. He claims he loves me deeply and am the last lady he will ever love. Now he is gone to me forever. I am devastated!

    I think arranged marriages are deeply unfair. He is doing this to keep his family happy. As a muslim, that is his priority. He said the fall-out from the extended family would be terrible if he cancelled this thing. He wants a traditional wife, with traditional values. He thought his parents would never accept me. I wonder how their life will be though, when his heart is with me? Will she not feel that he loves someone else? Was he a coward? is blood thicker than water? I find it unbelievable that a culture can work in this way, in this day and age. perhaps if they were in the village and never left, it would be fine. But he is now bringing her to Canada. It is crazy!

    • canadagirl

      dear Cyno
      this just happened to me
      he just said I’m getting married to a laos girl
      I still love him and am devasted and heart broken
      I cant stop crying

  • Samira

    I’m an associate producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. television. I’m working on a four-part series that is looking at the institution of marriage: why is it so prevalent in all cultures and all religions.

    As such, we are looking for people who have are about to get married or have recently wed. We are trying to get as wide a range of people as possible: those that may have found their partner on the internet, through a dating service, childhood sweethearts, arranged marriage, etc… If anyone is interested in this, please email me at

  • AJ

    In my opinion, arranged marriages are only acceptable if both people willingly want to be arranged. The bigger problem as I see it is when one of the people to be arranged, is totally, hopelessly in love with another person and Indian parents vehmently object to their adult child’s choice by belittling them, bullying them, yelling at them, threating to disown them, etc., just to get their child to marry the arranged person “they” want them to marry. This sad story happens far too often (the internet is full of these stories).

  • adam

    i have a mixed backround between mombassa of kenya and england decent , i have been deeply in love with the woman of my dreams and so the feelings are mutual. she is of eritrea decent borin but raised in canada , her parents (mother ) is severly in force of her marrying an arranged partner from u.s.a we are deeply in love and this act as a burdin on our relationship from times , her father is more of a laid back person and does care for his childs heart but the threat of the mother is there, for example the mother threatens the father if u let her do wut she wants ill divorce u.. i feel this is awfully unfare and all i want is to be with her and aske her 2 marryme , i dont know wut to do it is said that the man famil;y proposes to the daughters family but i am of kenyan decent an no very little she i the love of my life , send messages or so need opinions.

  • AJ

    I also know of a similar situation. A Hindu boy(age 30) I know is very much in love with a friend of mine (she is caucasian, age 29). They have been boyfriend/girlfriend for three years, living together, and intimate during this time(his parents do not know this). But despite all his talking and pleading with his parents to understand how much he loves my friend, they want him to marry, no, they are demanding he marry someone they select for him. Now, they have given him the choice to chose between them and my friend or they will disown him. What kind of parents would do this to their child? What kind of parents would place their child in this type of situation? What kind of parents would make their child chose between the love of their parents and the love of their life? What kind of parents would jepordize their child’s happiness to satify their own? They may think they know their child well, but shouldn’t their adult child have a say in who they marry? After all, they have to live the rest of their lives with this person, not the parents. So shouldn’t the boy ultimately make this decision? And, how fair is it to the girl he is being arranged with knowing he is deeply in love with someone else (or is she even being told?). How fair is it to the son being forced into a marriage he does not want when his heart belongs to another girl? I would truly like to hear from Indian parents that had/have similar situations with their adult children, to see/understand their mindset. The Indian parents that have refused to accept my friend’s marriage also tried to lay guilt on their son by telling him that my friend would surely divorce him, their children would not be Hindu etc., and everything else they could think of. Indian Parents read this: NOT ALL CAUCASIAN PEOPLE GET DIVORCED. My friends parents have been married for forty-five years. The Hindu son explained to his parents that my friend is willing to become Hindu, learn Hindi, celebrate all Indian holidays, cook Indian food, raise their children Hindu, agree to let his parents live with them as they grow older, etc., and the list goes on and on. My friend has “bent over backwards” to please him and his parents, but they still loathe/detest her even though they refuse to meet her. How can someone vehemently dislike someone they have never met? My friend is well educated (MBA), beautiful, from a very good loving family, has very high morals and is the nicest person I have ever met. The parents tell their son, only an Indian girl from India that they select will be acceptable to them. The son was raised in the US (St. Louis)and he does not want to marry an Indian girl. Indian parents that have had a similar situation, or any Indian parents out there, I would welcome your comments.

    Adam-I am sorry to hear of your situation. Has your girlfriend come right out and told her parents that this is what “she” wants, to marry you, you and no one else? If not, her voice and opinion needs to be heard.

    • CaRoLine

      hello!!!! AJ

      I had read your history and have touched much my heart to me so that I am happening through I am living this case in my own experience…

      I have been living with my boyfriend for almost 5 years (their parents do not know), i’m from colombia he’s from Pakistan, we met in the United States, he was raiced here.

      Now that already almost both we are entering the age of 30 years we are wanted to marry but we have this problem, and by this same our relation one has become very complicated,

      We both like each other and we have good understanding relation…. but at the time of speaking with his family always it becomes a problem, however with my family there is no problem so that they love my boyfriend know the person who is ……

      now I am sad so that we have finished our relation that we shared by many many time ….. now they took back my boyfriend to Pakistan to marry it with a woman who not even knows…. he doesn’t want disrespect his parents…

      but in this case her mother is going to be happy …… I ask itself so that they put in the head as much sweepings to him and they do not understand that we both loved?

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site