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Controversial Teens Forced into Marriages

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by spnadmin, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    As many as 50 underage New Zealand girls a year are being forced into marriages by Sikh and Muslim religious leaders who abuse a loophole in the Marriage Act to get away with it.

    A respected ethnic women's group, Shakti Community Council, is making the claim this week as it launches a media campaign to get the act changed.

    "Within Sikh temples and mosques, girls as young as 13 and 14 are being married off and without being registered," Shila Nair of Shakti told the Sunday Star-Times.

    The marriages, performed by imams and granthi who know the law and the ethnic loophole, are consummated. "The girls are getting pregnant as young as 14 and 15," Nair says. "Even the school systems do not pick it up and the girls go through a lot of suffering.

    "It is a large problem – these girls do not come out, only when the abuse gets bad, do they seek help."

    Leaders of the Muslim community in New Zealand, however, say they are unaware of any underage marriages being performed here.

    Dr Mohammed Musa, of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said he had checked with the head of the religious community and he was adamant that no religious leader in the Muslim community would be reckless enough to perform a marriage ceremony in which the bride was underage.

    "He's been in contact with all the religious leaders around the country, who are also marriage celebrants, and he's never been aware of any such marriages being conducted in New Zealand. The laws of this land do not permit this kind of affair," Musa said.

    Under the Marriage Act ethnic religious leaders do not need to be registered as marriage celebrants.

    Two years ago, Shakti launched a lobbying campaign with politicians to get this changed and the organisation said it believed the government would make the reforms. It also feared that, in an election year, the government may back off for fear of offending politically active Sikhs and Muslims in Auckland and Hamilton.

    On Thursday, Shakti will brief the media and provide an extensive report on the problem.

    It will also call on the government to create a special policing unit similar to Britain's Home Office Forced Marriage Unit.

    Nair said she had no doubt that imams and granthi knew that they were performing marriages unacceptable to the wider New Zealand community.

    "They cannot claim ignorance," she said, adding that Shakti was attracting hostility from Sikh and Muslim leaders.

    "The community doesn't want to accept it, they say it is a one-off thing. We know, working with women, that it's not one-off."
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    Nair said Shakti is culturally sensitive, but is strong on defining what is appropriate for women.

    "[Ethnic communities] have to know they are not living in their country where their laws probably permit this," she said. "They are living in New Zealand and this is clearly a violation of the fundamental rights of the girl, child and women, and it's not acceptable."

    Underage girls were being married off in a religious context. "These girls are deprived of their rights to study, to work, and they are girls growing up in New Zealand."

    The girls are mostly locally born but their parents are from abroard and occasionally the male involved is brought in under an arranged marriage which Immigration New Zealand permits.

    "[Underage arranged marriages] should not be permissible within New Zealand," Nair says. "And we, as a women's organisation, we have been lobbying against these kind of things that infringe on the rights of girl children and young women."

    Anjum Rahman, of the Islamic Women's Council, said she was unaware of such marriages being performed in New Zealand. "If people are doing this, they must be doing it very quietly or within a closed community because we are certainly not aware of it.

    "There is no knowledge that this is happening in any kind of way. If it is happening, it is happening underground and away from our knowledge," Rahman said. "It is certainly in no way sanctioned or approved of by our organisation."

    - Sunday Star Times

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4651006/Teens-forced-into-marriages
     

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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Concerned about the authenticity of this story...was it an attempt to smear Sikhs in New Zealand ... I did some cross checking.

    Apparently not. There is a petition before the government on the issues. Shakti is an established organization for the protection of women. Here is another story given some specific background.

    Anti 'honour-based' marriage law sought in New Zealand

    New Zealand News.Net
    Saturday 29th January, 2011 (IANS)

    Various ethnic women groups in New Zealand have urged the government to make a law which can prevent forced marriages, as an escalating number of high-risk young victims are coming forward to seek help.

    Shakti, which runs refuges for Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern women in New Zealand, has joined with Pacific Women's Watch and 46 others to petition Parliament to outlaw forced underage marriages which, they say, put young girls in situations that can lead to horrendous physical and sexual abuse, reported The Dominion Post Friday.

    Calls to Shakti, the women support group's crisis line have risen to 350 calls a month since July 2010, when they averaged 250 a month.

    Among these are many young girls and though more are coming forward, there would be others who are too fearful, Priyanca Radhakrishnan of the Shakti Community Council says.

    Examples of 'honour-based' forced relationships included a 14-year-old who was raped and told by her parents she was 'sullied goods' before being made to marry her rapist. Other girls had been threatened with death if they don't agree to an arranged marriage, or were forced into marriage because their parents find out they have a boyfriend or think they dress inappropriately, Radhakrishnan said.

    'Domestic violence in general and honour-based violence in specific is a reality for a number of women and we have first-hand experience of this and should not be ignored. Violence to a large extent has been normalised in the home country. Many times rape within a marriage isn't even considered, because the idea is once you're married to your husband you are his property.'

    But forced relationships were an abuse of human rights, which should be illegal in New Zealand, she said.

    The petition asks the Government to introduce legislation similar to the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act introduced in Britain in 2007. This would include raising the legal marriage age to 18, penalising accomplices to forced marriage, and allow the courts to issue forced-marriage protection orders.

    http://www.newzealandnews.net/story/737775
     
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  4. spnadmin

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  5. Archived_member11

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    Sorry to say but the fact that the spnadmin instantly was suspicious of a political motive behind this is a scary thing in and of itself. Religious people should be the most self critical yet instead we try so hard to deny these things and find scapegoats or justifications. Has anyone ever really spent time with many Sikhs? This report seems tame to me. I've seen Sikhs beat their employees for no reason,harass girls on the street,nearly kill poor rickshaw drivers for 'getting in the way of their car,' brag about killing their own brother etc. etc.Dastaar and Gurdwara attendance don't make us all saints. If people would maturely address problems in their community immediately these types of cases would be very minimal but instead we blame Hindus,Muslims,1984,Racism,Congress,or media and mention shaheeds and Sants or anything else before we say to ourselves, ''there are major problems in our community.It needs to stop." It's not just 50 girls in New Zealand.It's world wide and it's sad and disgraceful and far from our Gurus teachings and no amount of Sikh identity or Sikh history nostalgia will solve it either. This is a major issue of backward behavior and backward culture.Finger pointing and denial is not a good idea. Let's all honor our Gurus and stop protecting our friends and family when they commit these atrocious acts and start taking responsibility for the things that happen in the Panth.
     
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  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    jyotsinghji

    I am sorry if my admission of suspicion offended you. But....I always look for more than one source before I publish anything that could be controversial on lack of evidence. That way we avoid the problem of making false accusations. The story is believable. Forced marriages happen in Britain, Canada and the US. Not only India. We have published about this many times on SPN. There are stories every month. Sometimes these lead even to honour killings. So, no, I don't expect hard numbers because the girls and the boys could come to harm if they were identified. Yet I do expect confirmation.
     
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  7. gurdips

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    I presume we should be suspicious as well as wary when the news appears in media without much substantiation. I am not saying that this can't happen, however just because it is ahppening at other places does not mean we should just accept the fact that it is true everywhere. In this case afaik Shakti hass not brought this fact to any Sikh forum either to discuss or report this happenings. Anyway they are sup[posed to provide more details on Thur abou this and hopefully we will gte more clear picture, till that time we should not just accuse that others (among us) know and are hiding this ... That won't be fair from moral and ethical perspective
     
  8. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Not all Sikhs are saints and not all those who killed sikhs ( example post 9/11 in Usa..) did it becasue they beleived sikhs to be saints..and there are plenty of media and powerful agencies maligning sikhs all over....and its not about Sikhs too...a Malaysina Woman politiican came on national TV and lambasted the Valentine day as a CHRISTIAN VICE which mulsims shoudl stay away from...BUT these same people JUMP sky high when someone even mentions "Islamic terrorism"..they say How can any sane person equate terrorism with ISLAM...SO is it a sane person who blames CHRISTIANITY for Valentine day so called Vices that young people especially MUSLIMS do in large numbers such as single sex, unwnated pregnancies, dumping babaies, abortions drinking clubbing etc etc?

    SPNADMIN is wise..because FOOLS RUSH IN where ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. Double checking each story for verificationa nd corrobration is WISDOM PERSONIFIED..and well wortht he effort to upkeep SPN's HONOUR and INTEGRITY as a fair Forum.
     
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  9. Archived_member11

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    "we should not just accuse that others (among us) know and are hiding this" It is a fact that most of the type of crimes we are talking about are actually not reported and that at times whole families know of it but would rather not get police involved. Some reports say that less than 10% of forced marriages and abuses are reported in the 'south asian' communities. So yes,we should accuse people of knowing and hiding because over and over again it's proven that people know and hide the fact that girls are abused. No religious shield or scapegoat argument will solve the problem. Man Up as they say and do your part in making the world safe for women. And Gyani, relax. You hate Muslims.Great. You go on and on about wisdom but really it isn't a huge deal. The points being made are much bigger than the article itself..We're talking about GIRLS IN OUR COMMUNITY BEING SOLD,KILLED,RAPED,FORCED INTO FAMILIAL SLAVERY. If Sikhs don't help Sikhs to change what happens in the Sikh diaspora then who will? It isn't a joke.
     
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  10. nzamrit

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    I am a NZ Sikh and do take offence to the items mentioned in the article. This article appeared in the Sunday Star Times which is a national newspaper in New Zealand. There was no clarification sought from the NZ Sikh community about the contents of the article. Please see http://www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pa...ter-honour-killing-it-is-forced-teen-marriage which covers the NZ Sikh community's response to the article. To the best of my knowledge Shakti/Michael Field do not have the statistics to back-up what they are saying.
     
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  11. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    nzamrit ji

    I appreciate your balanced response to this article. It took some reflection before publishing it. First of all, there are no statistics in evidence. And that is a shortcoming of the entire matter. Whether statistics would be easy to collect without placing teenagers in danger is a question that I have. We are looking at a small and concentrated population of teenagers in a relatively small geographical region. So anonymity may be hard to protect.

    We have published the story that you have cited that gives the response of the NZ Sikh community to the publication and Shakti/Michael. There too the reaction was only balanced.

    http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/controversies/34536-after-honour-killing-forced-teen-marriages.html

    It seems that no one wants to sweep the matter under the rug and the main request is to find evidence that will underscore the prevalence of the problem, rather than label entire communities in a negative way.

    My own reaction is that the law which allows marriages by granthis and mullahs who have not been required to register as legal agents to conduct nuptial ceremonies is a matter of concern.

    Once again, Great reply!
     
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  12. findingmyway

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    My concern with the starter article and follow up material I have seen is that no examples are presented involving Sikhs yet Sikhs are the 1st community mentioned. I have been following this and what has been happening behind the scenes and would like to briefly report back.

    Many members of the NZ Sikh society have been very active in contacting the paper and Shakti to ask on what they base their allegations so if there are issues they can be tackled. A call has been made within the community so if anyone knows of any problems then again appropriate steps can be taken to tackle the issues as such behaviour is not acceptable. Shakti has not been able to provide any evidence and all their official documents cite examples from other communities rather than Sikhs. Special meetings have been held to discuss the situation. Today I found out from someone in NZ that todays Sunday Star Times has printed and explanation and apology. This is not yet appeared online but I will keep checking.
    Genuine issues should be raised so they can corrected. Slander should not be tolerated.
     
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  13. nippyhubby

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    i am confident to say that no parents want to marry their daughters at the age of 13 and 14, and i am also confident that these parents are forced to do so not because of their cultural beliefs but by the teenage girls attitude,which is being supported by law of the land of these countires.its not hidden that teenage girls are getting pregnant at age of 13 and 14 by have sex with their boy friends.(its strange they dont mind getting pregnant in this way but getting married and getting pregnant they dont like.
    i wanted to ask shakti has they ever gone to teenage girls to advice them on not having sex at this underage.
    (""Underage girls were being married off in a religious context. "These girls are deprived of their rights to study, to work, and they are girls growing up in New Zealand."")quote.
    does shakti knows that these teenage girls show more concentration on sociealising ,boys and sex rather than concentrating on studies.
    when parents migrate to these countries they always do so for a better future of their kids but what parents do when kids dont understand that .
    no parents want to deprive their kids from studies,and if they are getting their teenage girls married its so because they are scared that their daughter might someday come home pregnant.
     
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  14. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    nippyhubby ji

    I do think the context for Shakti's work in this area has been misunderstood and made to look more sensational than was the original purpose of the appeal to Parliament.

    The motivation was to pass a law where imams and granthis (or whomever officiates and signs off on a Sikh wedding in a particular instance) be required to be registered with the government, as with other clergy in other religions. The Sikh faith has no clergy. Therefore, the one who officiates need not be authorized to perform marriages in NZ. Shakti was making an effort to monitor marriages in these two instances so that marriages of underage girls would not happen in the first place...not even one example.

    The press coverage made this point but did not emphasize it enough.
     
  15. davinderdhanjal

    davinderdhanjal United Kingdom
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    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} </style> <![endif]--> The forum seems to have taken a defensive stance against a warning someone is trying to put forward. I gather two issues:

    • Under age forced (or unforced too) marriages.
    • Abuse of girls after marriage by the male partner to extract favours or funds from girls’ side in form of ‘dowry’.
    Neither of these (and may be a lot more issues) are commendable. I would not defend the perpetrators or myself if there was no truth in the matter. I would like to be above the arrows being shot.
    Our clergy is not well known to be aware or educated enough to be able to advise the parents on these and related items with conviction.
    Our spiritual leaders and politicians in Punjab India are impotent to help and show us the direction.
    New Zealand is a small community (sparsely populated admittedly) and in a unique position in my view to be able to set an example for Sikhi and the world.
    Why not add these into the constitution of the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and ensure that the granthis and other ‘leaders’ of the gurdwaras are all capable of advising and helping in case of reported crime or anyone needing help. They need not have councillors but should be able to advise the parties about say ‘Childline’, Woman abuse groups, drug addiction etc. These can be supplemented with written material also.
    The second issue is more thorny and ingrained in the Indian (Punjabi that matters here) Society.
    It is still possible for the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committees or individual gurdwaras to contribute.
    I float an idea that might help.
    Make a group that includes people of different walks of life (may be different religions of Punjabis). This group should have knowledge of the need, history, and abuse of Dowry system.
    I can suggest a name “Avarice Indian Dowry System group”.
    Some funds should be put into this group for the real needy (there may be some pertinent recipient who may need help). All the families should be encouraged to report to this group of the demands from the prospective family for the help they require.
    Any request bordering criminality should be rewarded with the funds after parading with the family head and the requester with garland of shoes and black faces on donkeys through the town in full glory of Sikh community.
    May be this should also have a written document emphasising the need of ‘kirt’ and denigrating leeching as a Sikh activity. SGGS has good writing about earning honest living.
    Bhul Chuck Maf Karna.
     
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