A securitization of case law on forced marriage showcases that in calculation to physical force, the role of emotional expression is now taken into consideration. Although, in both legal and policy discourse, the difference between arranged and forced marriage still is to be shaped in binary terms and hinges on the aspect of consent: the framework in which consent is formulated hugely maintains as unexplored. By looking at the socio-cultural construction of personhood, especially womanhood, and the intersecting structural inequalities that constrain particular groups of South Asian women in the UK, will help understand forced marriage. I also look at immigration which is a growing concern as well as consent and coercion in relation to marriage can be better understood as two ends of a continuum, between which lie degrees of socio-cultural expectation, control, persuasion, pressure, threat and coercion or force. Women who face these constraints exercise their agency in complex and contradictory ways that are not always understood by the current exit-centered state initiatives designed to address this problem.
A Critical Exploration Of The Policy/Conceptual/Global Links Between Forced Marriages, Arranged Marriages And Domestic Violence
Forced marriage is defined differently from arranged marriage. The former involves coercion while the later involves consent. However, the differences have been recurrently reported as confusing and incipient. Forced and arranged marriages have triggered both national and international interests and debates, probably because of the inherent domestic violence they perpetrate in any location they occur. Both of them are characterized by domestic violence through abuse, coercion, threats etc (Wilson, 2007).
This study aims to investigate the nature and the extent of forced and arranged marriages in relation to domestic violence and abuse within the South Asian community.
The secondary data on arranged marriages and forced marriages will be critically reviewed in their relation to domestic violence within the South Asian community. The review will explore the level of marital instability caused by these sorts of marriage, divorce and homelessness induced by the fear of being battered. The review will examine both the past and present debates, legislations and policies, both national and international, regarding these sorts of marriages and the efforts in place by various authorities to reduce victimization which is the major adverse effects of the marriages, especially on women.
Research Philosophy and Approach:
Subjectivism is the appropriate epistemology for this study. The research philosophy is informed by interpretivism since it aims to explore the experiences of a particular sample that have experienced domestic violence as a result of their marriage types. Therefore, it will adopt the appropriate inductive technique consistent with the qualitative research paradigm (Bryman, 2004).
Research Methods and Strategies:
The study will draw solely on secondary data in this subject, national and international debates and reports on domestic violence motivated by forced marriages will be assessed. The data will be carefully presented and analyzed. By deciding on a literature review I understand that there is some criticisms of a literature review which are that it can be problematic because the policy implications on forced marriage may be applied to certain social/geographical context. For instance, in the united state ofAmerica, information about forced marriage may be somewhat different over there in comparison to the jurisdiction or applicability in theUnited Kingdom. I have to discuss the information in its relevant context and the place where the information comes from (Bryman, 2004). Nonetheless, I will ‘borrow’ information from abroad about my subject and apply it to my argument within theU.K.relating it in its relevant context and make comparisons where necessary with the state inAmericacontrasted with the state in theU.K.
Primary sources are firsthand accounts but they have ignored in this dissertation because it would be time consuming to collect original data and my preferences was to devote my focus to analyzing and interpreting secondary data. Also, they can offer a limited perspective, and can be quite difficult to interpret. This is where secondary sources come in handy and secondary sources are secondary accounts, and the data accessed often is a compilation of primary sources. Secondary sources were not written by people who experienced the events, which they describe, so this can be limited. However, secondary sources are usually written by experts who have already evaluated a number of primary sources and have used them to re-construct the past (Bryman, 2004).
The review of previous studies in this subject will enable the researcher to understand fully, the scale of the problem and how to appropriately fill in the existing gap, which is the goal of the present study. Shockingly, the scale of the problem is self-evident when statistics are acknowledged – at least 3,000 young women inBritainare the victims of forced marriages annually with the scale of the problem far bigger than originally concluded (Kanuha, 1997). The first study ever formulated in theUKinto the commonness of the custom shows that there are far more victims, disseminated across different ethnic minority communities, than official figures suggest (Guardian, 2008).
The presentation and analysis of the information in this subject will be supported by the relevant theories in domestic violence. It will explore the feminist perspectives on how patriarchy impacts forced marriage. It will explore how religion and culture have bestowed men with more opportunities than women and how such opportunities are being exploited by men to the disadvantage of women.
The study will reveal the nature and extent of arranged and forced marriages within the South Asian community which will make them both culturally and politically aware of the ongoing incidents of forced marriage. The present study will equally enable the natives understand the way they could contribute to put an end to the violence which is often triggered by the so-called arranged and forced marriages.
I have chosen this topic because arranged/forced marriage is essentially an issue of violence against women. Most cases involve young women and girls aged between 13 and 30 years; yet, there is evidence to imply that as many as 15% of victims are male (see Mama, 2000). Currently, some two hundred cases of forced marriage are reported to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office each year. Many others go unreported. With greater awareness this figure is likely to increase (Mama, 2000).
The majority of cases of forced marriage encountered in theUKinvolve South Asian families (Mama, 2000). However, despite appearances, this is not solely an ‘Asian’ problem. A reason for the difference is that theUKhas a large Asian population. There are also cases involving families from East Asia, the Middle East, Europe andAfrica. The problem of forced marriage ought to not be used to label any community. Some forced marriages take place in the UK with no abroad element while others consist of a partner coming from overseas or a British citizen being sent abroad (Gill, 2004).
Chapter one will discuss how forced marriage became legalized and analyze the definition of forced and arranged marriages by exploring similarities and differences. Therefore, I will analyze forced/arranged marriage in its social, global and cultural context and conceptualize its meanings and its affects. Moreover, exploration of the extent of forced marriages in Britainamongst South Asian community will be outlined from its historical framework to its contemporary context i.e. 21st century.
Chapter two will discuss theoretical explanations – feminist perspectives, power through religion and culture, male dominance through power; patriarchy. As well as the aspect of coercion and consent, how sometimes they can both be intertwined and complex to comprehend.
Chapter three will take a global perspective when analyzing the immigration aspect and how it impacts upon forced marriage and how influential it can be. What policy makers are doing about immigration?
Chapter four will look at tackling forced marriage, how it can be tackled and why it should be. The procedures like women’s police stations and ‘one-stop’ crisis centers that present medical care, legal and psychological counseling, education services and job referrals will be the foundations of my argument in this chapter with extended points relating to other relevant and most importantly, helpful institutions.
Chapter One: Understanding Forced/Arranged Marriage
This chapter will examine the problematic definitions of forced/arranged marriage, legalizing it and how this crime type actually became a crime. Understanding what this crime actually is will be the forefront of this chapter, in its historical, social, cultural and global context.
Conceptualizing Forced/Arranged Marriage:
Forced marriage is discussed to be a marriage formulated without the suitable consent of two parties, where pressure is a present aspect (Phillips and Dustin, 2004). The Court of Appeal has ruled that the examination for ‘duress’ is whether “the mind of the [victim] has in fact been overborne, howsoever that was caused”. It is understood that types of pressures can comprise of physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional types of duress (HM Government 2008; page 4).
The Government conducts a ‘clear distinction’ between forced marriage and arranged marriage in relation to the subject of choice. In arranged marriages the families of both partners takes a powerful and controlling role in deciding the marriage partner, yet the choice of whether or not to say yes to the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses. In forced marriage, there is no consent or freedom of choice – one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage or their consent is extorted under pressure (Anwar, 1999; Samad & Eade, 2002).
Critics like Samad & Eade (2002) and Phillips & Dustin (2004) postulate that, in operative means, this distinction is not so precise. ‘Choice’ is, an aspect that functions along a scale – between marriages forced on individuals against their will and those arranged on their behalf with their consent. Somewhere in the middle of the scale will unavoidably be ‘grey areas’ (Samad & Eade, 2002; Phillips & Dustin, 2004:11).
Khanum (2008) showcases her argument, which is around the concept known as ‘false marriage’. This is marriage by dishonesty, where a youngster may be deceived into giving permission to marriage through giving fake information or withholding serious information about the other potential marriage partner (such as the there age, wealth, habits, disabilities, drug addiction etc). Khanum (2008) questions whether a person’s consent can actually be stated to be free if it is based on information, which has been deliberately inaccurate or hidden (Khanum, 2008).
Moreover, a short time ago the published multi-agency practice, the guiding principle for handling cases of forced marriage identifies that particular cohorts ‘cannot’ give permission to marriage as they do not have the ability to do so. For instance, children simultaneously are vulnerable young individuals and adults with learning or physical disabilities. Alarmingly, Khanom (2008) furthers her argument in that young individuals who are seen to have poorer marriage predictions are more likely to deal with forced marriages; however physical, sensory or learning difficulties may be among the explanations why marriage view may be seen as poor (Phillips & Dustin, 2004; Khanom, 2008).
That said, to fully understand the concept of forced marriage we need to examine where it all started as a crime type, and how and whyNot just understanding the problematic definition of this crime type.
History Of Forced Marriage:
Historically, South Asian marriages had traditionally been constructed through families and punishment for refusal could be severe. Marriages were usually contracted under the long-established tradition of arranged marriage. A young man or his family could draw near a young woman’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. The parents would then explore the background of the potential husband. Parents also try to judge the compatibility of the potential spouses, specifically by consulting an achar – an elderly religious man – who bases his examination on the astrological combination of the brides and groom’s individual birth timing. Parents are discouraged from marrying a daughter against her will (UNIFEM, 2003).
Parental involvement in marriages was included in the Civil Code for the South Asian community and authority that developed before 1975. The Code enabled both minor and adult children to gain the permission of their parents for the match; however, it was permissible for adult children to marry without parental consent. Ebihara (1960) argued that it is the parents who determine on the marriage and the child acquiesces as of a sense of obedience or as she/he has no strong feelings about marrying a specific person. The arrangement of arranged marriage is, of course, susceptible to abuse, and no doubt some of these marriages in Ebihara’s study were without one or both of the spouses’ liberally given consent. For instance, a rape victim could be forced to marry her rapist, as she could no longer marry another man as she had lost her virginity. The Civil Code did include provisions that enabled either the man or woman to drive away from an engagement and enabled either spouse, once married, to withdraw the marriage if their consent was vitiated by misstep or force. The basic institution thereby, envisioned consensual arranged marriage. However, marriage ceremonies were complex, with rituals connecting the bride and groom and their families (UNIFEM, 2003).
On the other hand, parents have disturbed and destroyed the relationship and education that took years to accumulate, for economic reasons, to send their children into forced marriages. Religious connotation has been infused into the subject of forced marriage and cannot be pulled away from tradition (UNIFEM, 2003). Then what about the legalization of this?
The legalization is coming from a global perspective yet the focus is onSierra Leonebecause at her trial, the bulk of dismissed the charge, holding that the prosecutor’s evidence implying that the crime of forced marriage was totally subsumed by the crime of sexual slavery. Therefore, domestic violence has been used, marrying the victim then abusing them from the power and control of the perpetrator.
How Forced Marriage Was illegalized:
The special court forSierra Leone’s trial and appeals chambers handed down judgments allowing for, for the first time, forced marriage as a crime against humanity. In 2005, the Special Court for Sierra Leone broke new ground when it identified that forced marriage can constitute an inhumane act and enabled the prosecutor to modify the indictment for three accused to comprise of the charge of forced marriage as a crime against humanity. At trial, though, the majority dismissed the charge, holding that the prosecutor’s evidence implying that the crime of forced marriage was absolutely subsumed by the crime of sexual slavery. In 2008 the Appeals Chamber upturned that finding and convicted the three accused of forced marriage for an inhumane act that constituted a crime against humanity. Forced marriage is not exclusive toSierra Leone. Stories have emerged from other regions such as,Rwanda,Mozambique, andUganda, in which women were taken as ‘wives’ or ‘bush wives’ by the armed forces (Wilson, 2007; FCO, 2002).
Moreover, the policy of forced marriage emerged by the Khmer Rouge, which ruledCambodiabetween 1975 and 1979. Though stories of forced labor, starvation, executions, and the ‘killing fields’ have been stamped into the international community’s imagination, the story of gender violence has remained hugely myopic. Nonetheless, forced marriage during periods of conflict has been the topic of some recent conversations, both academically and in the non-governmental sector. How can the crime of forced marriage be policed to make sure it improves the protection of civilians and the identification of gender based crimes, further entrenching patriarchal ideas of marriage (Wilson, 2007).
Interestingly, while there is a need to distinguish a crime of forced marriage, the crime must be limited only to the conferral of the status of marriage and the ongoing effects of that label on the victim whether they are male or female. The potential effects of increasing the crime of forced marriage beyond the ‘marriage itself’ needs closer scrutiny. If the crime incorporates other conduct within these ‘marriages’ – for instance, rape, slavery, or torture – this will provide the perpetrator’s aim of veiling criminal conduct with the word ‘marriage’ (Thiara and Gill, 2009; Wilson, 2007).
This chapter has looked at the problematic definitions of forced/arranged marriage, the legalization of it and how this crime type formulated in its criminal offence. Understanding what this crime actually is has been the main aspect of this chapter, in its historical, social, cultural and global context. Next however, will look at the theory behind forced marriage where feminism shall be evaluated as well as the blur boundaries between consent and coercion.
Chapter Two: Theoretical Underpinnings and Coercion
This chapter will explore the theoretical explanations in relation to forced marriage, particularly focusing on feminism because they aim at understanding, establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women of all identities. Also, the haziness of coercion and consent is highlighted. What happens if a victim does not consent?
McElroy (2010) argues marriage oppresses women and the family breeds patriarchy; both formulate from capitalism. Married women are measured as pathological and false. To rationalize this explosion of hostility, they position to the soaring rate of domestic violence, even though violence against women – as measured by the murder rate – has not amplified apart from in proportion to population expansion. However, the gender feminist examination of marriage borders on the illogical – e.g. housework as ‘surplus value’ – it is vital to comprehend the intensity of hatred they aim at heterosexual sex and men argues McElroy (2010). Therefore, this is vital to realize the emotions that stimulate sexual correctness (McElroy, 2010).
Although, Dickens (2010) illustrates that McElroy’s argument in maintaining private property and capitalism, and the fact that she is a FOX news commentator will, for many, weaken her “anarchist” credentials to a great extent. Her term “sexually correct,” of course, is linked to the term “politically correct.” It is a metaphorical tool used to expose the very continuation of any unorthodox opinion as oppressive to the status quo. Instantaneously, we see that this stereotype is built not upon fact but on ideological dogmatism (Dickens, 2010).
Marriage and ‘Race:’
The ideology of marriage as oppressive and patriarchal is predominant within the feminist movement. For example, in Why Women’s LiberationRacism and Male Supremacy, Marlene Dixon illustrated that the foundation of marriage is the main vehicle for the formulation of the oppression of women – it is via the responsibility of wife that the suppression of women is maintained. In a very valid way the job of a wife has been the origins of women’s rebellion all through history. Looking at marriage from a different perspective one may well contemplate why anyone gets married, much less women. One explanation lies in the economics of women’s position, for women are so occupationally restricted that drudgery in the home is regarded to be substantially superior to drudgery in the factory. Moreover, women themselves have no self-reliant social status. Certainly, there is no distinct index of the social significance of a woman in this society than the truth that she has none in her own right. A woman is first labelled by the man to whom she is attached, although more chiefly by the man she marries or in this case, forced to marry (Beijing, 1995; Wilson, 2007).
It could be established, then, that the difficulty lies not with the institution of marriage itself but with the structure of the society within which the marriage forms. Forced and arranged marriage – clearly both (though evident in various ways) signify greater restrictions on freedom and equality than do marriages born of love. This is something that point of view in favour of arranged marriage cannot explain, concentrating instead on “family values” and absolutely making the postulation that “security” and “stability” is better traits than freedom (Wilson, 2007).
Whereas, love marriages are fairly recent as an accepted institution adds to this argument. Recently, marriage was a contract to be organized between father and prospective husband (Gill, 2004). Marrying for love was comprehensively more difficult to do, even amongst the proletariats where a dowry could not add up too much. A love marriage is much liberal and amounts to than an arranged marriage, and certainly than a forced marriage. Therefore, this gives credence to McElroy’s point of view that we should in marriage, as in all other undisturbed pursuits of life, let people decide (McElroy, 2010).
The literature on feminism and multiculturalism has recognized possible conflicts between the identification of cultural diversity and securing women’s equality. Three far-reaching approaches to this problem have formed in the practices of up to date states: rules, working with the communities, and exit. Each of these is evident in current initiatives relating to forced marriage, however the stress in theUKhas been on allowing people to flee from the threat or reality of a forced marriage. Simultaneously, the multicultural nature of European societies is gradually more known and the policy implications are more challenged. When cultural diversity is overlooked or denied, there is a hazard that public policy will note down in the practices and assumptions of common groups as unquestioned norms. People of minority groups may consequently find themselves less bubble-like than others in their cultural or religious practices; they may even be forced into repeating the bulk of behavior in order to conform to the law (Mama, 2000; Dickens, 2007).
However, moving from an conceited assimilationism to a hands-off toleration also carries risks, and particularly so when what symbolizes as the ‘tradition’ of a minority cultural group turns out to bear more seriously on some members than others. As a mounting feminist literature on multiculturalism argues (Dickens, 2007) this is principally likely to occur when the culture in question regulates the relationship of women to men or young people to old. In such circumstances, a ‘live and let live’ approach to cultural difference can demoralize the rights of young people and women (Anwar, 1998). That said, what about consentDoesn’t the victim have a right in say whether he or she wants to get marriedThis is explored next.
The Limitations Of Exit:
Problems regarding choice and consent form heavily in the literature on exit. In the most severe versions, a victim can be said to have chosen a particular way of life if she/he fails to take up their option to leave it. Why one cannot leave a forced marriage could be because the cost of refusal may be high – loss of income, loss of home, loss of parental approval – but then few decisions are costless. A woman who knows there will be ‘hell to pay’ if she refuses a proposed marriage (Anwar, 1998). Kukathas (2003) argues this as being coercion if the expected hell consisted of physical violence, but if not as just a high price to pay. His notion of free consent is closer to that of the courts than to their practice in the contemporary day. The question of what makes the exit option existent has stimulated virtually everyone involved in work around forced marriage inBritain. The deficiency of alternative accommodation for young people fleeing family pressure is one burning concern, because it is more specifically difficult of locating refuges that appear welcoming to young Asian women. Young women brought into theUKas spouses face exceptionally strict difficulties, for if they attempt to leave the marriage before they have been granted indefinite leave to remain; they will not be eligible for most forms of public funding. Because they must live in theUKfor at least two years before becoming eligible to stay in their own right, this sets a magnificently high barrier against leaving a forced marriage. Identifying the danger that women will be duty-bound to stay in an abusive marriage rather than risk transportation, the ‘domestic violence rule’ now enables a woman who can prove the breakdown of her marriage through domestic violence to be established indefinite leave. The standard of proof is, however, high (the abused spouse has to take out an injunction, or establish that her partner has been convicted in court, or issued with a police caution), and even after less tough rules were adopted in 2002, the recognition has had limited success. Women applying under this concession still have no recourse to public funds until their immigration status is resolved, and may well have no-one to turn to for help with short-term accommodation or financial or emotional support (Kukathas, 1992; Kukathas, 2003).
In cases where people settled in Britain are being burdened to accept a spouse from overseas, they can reject to join the family on the overseas trip; if they give in to that strain, they can later decline to contribute in the marriage ceremony; if they give in there, they still have the choice of refusing to sponsor the entry of their new spouse on their return to the UK. Many do remove themselves at this last task, but at every point along the way, the refusal to co-operate can ‘conjure’ open fissure with the family. The emotional burdening of exit relies heavily on individuals. So long as families stay convinced that the marriage they have arranged is in the best interests of their children, and children stay (reasonably) unwilling to cut off their family ties, many young people will yield to moral pressure and ‘consent’ and when kidnapping to apply a marriage usually carries a prison sentence of six months to three years, few of the young people will want to practice a prosecution against their families (Sundari, 2001; Formoso et al., 2000).
The judgment in a recent wardship proceedings makes the point certainly forceful. The case consisted of two orphaned girls of Pakistani origin, aged 13 and 15 at the time of the investigation, who had been taken back to Pakistanafter the death of their father, and apparently gone through betrothal ceremonies there. Intervention by the FCO concluded in their repatriation to the UK, where they were placed with a foster carer. It was noteworthy that the girls’ stressed out wishes (presumably to return to where they had been living in the UK) could put them at serious risk of harm, the judge aimed at the local authority to reflect on an application for a care order. He commented that while agencies worried with forced marriage were doing their best to offer ‘effective exit’, it was vital to track this through so that susceptible young people are not left high and dry if they choose to take what for many of them is the final step of electing to withstand family pressure or traditional or cultural expectations (Re M Minors, 2003; Formoso et al., 2000).
Society has become progressively conscious of the need to maintain the individual’s ability to make efficient choices, and to protect the honesty of a child or young adult from the risk of marriages coerced or forced and sometimes by violent threat. However, an explanation of forced marriage are because of parental worries about their children getting mixed with the ‘wrong’ kind of people (perhaps from a different religious or ethnic group) have been the spark off that started them on the search for a ‘good’ marriage partner. In their report on attitudes towards forced marriage among Bangladeshis in East London and Pakistanis in Bradford, Barot et al., (1999) argue that (t) he knee-jerk reaction to young men’s involvement in drug use and petty crime or young women ‘conjuring’ unlawful liaisons is to get them married and thereby, hopefully resolve the problem. If, as this implies, the social and sexual power and control of their children is one of the main reasons why parents will force them into a marriage with unknown partners from overseas, this is not so clearly something that will fade out in another generation (Barot et al.,1999). We might, on the contrary, anticipate progressive inter-generational conflict, with fewer young people willing to accept their parents’ preconceived ideas about prospective marriage partners, and more parents willing to employ coercion. Thereby, if cultural conflicts within immigrant families – which shall be the focus of the next chapter – indeed affect problem behaviors, it is vital to light up the pathways by which intergeneration conflict influences problem behaviors to classify the source of risk as well as the buffering factors that mitigate the impact of conflicts (Formoso et al., 2000).
This chapter has examined the theoretical explanations in relation to forced marriage, particularly focusing on feminism because feminist McElroy (2010) argues marriage oppresses women and the family breeds patriarchy; both formulate from capitalism (McElroy, 2010). I decided to highlight McElroy because I am also a radical feminist, understanding that the state is male subjugated and gender bias and expectations are clouded within the state influencing judgments and verdicts when it comes to addressing forced marriage. Also, coercion and consent was highlighted. Where the argument around what happens if a victim does not consentWhere leaving a decision is not easy because of many constraints’ such as, the economical position of the victim and there family.
Forced Marriage And Immigration:
This chapter will examine the public policy aspect in relation immigration. How forced marriage can be explained and comprehended in terms of the global dimension of this phenomenon.
Public policy has concentrated almost solely on cases involving transcontinental marriage. The key measures are positioned in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Home Office’s Immigration and Nationality Directorate; there is no surveillance of cases between two people settled in theUK; and no unit analogous to the Community Liaison Unit in the Home Office or elsewhere. The focal point on overseas spouses means that initiatives to resolve the undoubted harm of forced marriages get constricted up in a potentially racist immigration debate (Bhabha and Shutter, 1994; Gill and Sundari, 2009).
Whereas, arranged marriage is contrasted on the one side with the abuse of forced marriage, but on the other with the abuse of ‘false’ or ‘sham’ marriages, entered into in order to secure entry to the UK. Illogically, this showcases the notion that forced marriage arises solely in cases of bogus marriage, and that the most effective way of reducing the crime of the first is to decrease the number of people marrying overseas spouses. However, a consequence is a perception withinBritain’s South Asian communities that the real aim of the forced marriage activity is to keep people out of theUK. Samad and Eade (2002) found that “a legacy of suspicion ha[d] developed, and that older people, in particular, saw the underlying motivation for tackling forced marriage as a desire to halt the immigration of spouses” (p.105).
On the other hand, there are minor explanations for this misgiving in the work of the Community Liaison Unit (whose staff have continuously conveyed that forced marriage is a human rights, not immigration, subject), it stays problematic to disconnect the forced marriage initiative from immigration policy (Samad and Eade, 2002). The rules controlling family reunion have formulated as one of the main methods of regulating the number of people situated in the UK; guidelines regulating asylum seekers are another – and immigration regulations have been modified a number of times from the 1960s to decrease the right to bring husbands and spouses into the country Bhanha and Shutter (1994) argue these restrictions are overwhelmingly directed at minority ethnic citizens (Bhabha and Shutter, 1994).
The thought that governments are using the forced marriage proposal to follow an immigration agenda may or may not be defensible; the facade of this – that governments apply immigration control to tackle the ‘problem’ of forced marriage – is certainly true.Denmark, for instance, recently amended its Aliens Act to create it difficult to utilize morality of family reunification to bring in overseas spouses or cohabitees when either party is below 24. The legislation is structured in race-neutral phrases, validating to everyone other than citizens of the EU and other Nordic countries, although potentially catching in its net Danes aiming to bring in partners fromCanadaor theUSAsimultaneously as those aiming to draw in partners from Africa orAsia. However, there is little disbelief that it is intentional to decrease the occurrences of forced marriage, as implied in an open letter from the Ministry of Integration to following women politicians fromFrance,BelgiumandSweden(who had postulated criticism of the new legislation). Illustrating that the amendments ought to be perceived above all to expose their aspirations to make sure that those who situate inDenmarkhave the best opportunities to do so in stipulations of integration. The amendments also echo’s there aim, twisted on the basis of a dialogue with Danish immigrant organizations, as well as others, to decrease the incident of forced marriages. This is a certainly a severe reply to the occurrence of forced marriage (Bhabha and Shutter, 1994; Gill and Sundari, 2009).
Additionally, that concurrently infantilizes ethnic minority women (as it implies they cannot claim themselves till their mid-20s), and makes it problematic for them to penetrate consensual marriages with overseas partners until they are well past what those partners might view as marriageable age. What is actually a least marriage age of twenty-four for anybody aiming to have an overseas partner works to put off the means of arranged marriage with partners from a country of origin, and provokes all people ofDenmarkto implement the upper marriage age that is the custom there. There is a painful aspect of cultural arrogance here: a theory that it would be better all if people detached their connections with their countries of origin and deserted the erroneous preference for earlier marriage (Parekh, 2000; Stopes-Roe and Cochrane, 1990).
Furthermore, there are reverberations of the Danish ‘way out’ in recent changes to immigration rules in theUK. From 1 April 2003, UK citizens below the age of 18 are no longer allowed to act as sponsors for the access of abroad spouses; they can still get married at 16, but if the companion comes from outside the EU, they will have to wait two years before sponsoring there entry visa. The foundation is to safeguard the youngest and most vulnerable from force, the (not irrational) hypothesis being that an eighteen-year-old is in a better situation to fight back family coercion than a girl or boy of sixteen. Families are less expected to enforce marriage on a sixteen-year-old when there is no viewpoint of family reunification for a further two years; moreover if they do still coerce a girl or boy to marry at a premature age, then the likelihood is that they can refuse to give in to the demands to support there partners entry application if the possibility for this does not arise till they are older. This is a ‘regulation’ instead of a ‘exit’ reply to the difficulty of forced marriage (Shachar, 2001; Hossein, 2000; Bhopal, 1999; Parekh, 2000; Stopes-Roe and Cochrane, 1990).
From Exit To What Exactly?
‘Smothered’ with evidence that major numbers of young people are being coerced into unwelcoming marriages annually, there are fundamentally three aspects public authorities can do. Menski (1999) argues, firstly, they can regulate, whichever by easing in new laws to criminalize the activity (this is being perpetuated in France but was not seen necessary in England and Wales) or by a very certain form of immigration control. Forced marriage is to be shortened by limiting all marriages with abroad partners, mostly by increasing the age at which abroad partners can come in the country (Menski, 1999). However, Spinner (2000) illustrates that the regulation method is difficult because it incorrectly equates abroad marriage with forced marriage, therefore, insinuating that youngsters are usually disinclined participants in marriages including abroad partners, and that families postulate these marriages only so as to aid access to the UK. Effectively, if not in letter, it judges against ethnic minority citizens, even when the instructions are situated in race-neutral terms, the main result is to decrease the occurrence of marriage with partners from Africa orAsia. It is also counter-productive, because it threatens to verify the overt thought inBritain’s South Asian communities that the forced marriage initiative is driven by a racist immigration outline. This makes it that much problematic for other initiatives to establish their trust (Spinner, 2000; Southall Black Sisters, 2001).
Secondly, focus is on exit. This has been the primary concentration of action inU.K., and at one stage it can barely be corrupted, because it correlates with an urgent and immediate need. However, exit only transgressed up to a point and sustains too many people with what they label as no choice, for when the options are from either refusing to not have a marriage partner or being refused in turn by one’s family (and as many understand it, then having to discontinue one’s religious or cultural identity), the costs are set almost incredibly elevated. It is too inconsiderate in this situation to say that no decision is costless; and only simply useful to dicuss that families should not be acting out in this way (Hossein, 2000). Shachar (2001, p.41) argues that the ‘right of exit’ supplies a case-by-case framework that structures the whole burden of ‘curing’ disagreement on the victim, and contrasts this with a more lenghty policy that would start to tackle the power relations that maintain to formulate the individual cases. There are powerful repetitions of this in the present method to the difficulty of forced marriage inBritain (Shachar, 2001).
Moreover, the third aspect is dialogue, or working with the communities affected. As a way of tackling the foundation power relations, this has to shape large in any long- term solution, certainly if the social pressures exposing both arranged and forced marriage are likely to be omnipresent argues Parekh (2000). Who then further agues that there has to be a move of power inside the families and communities employing arranged marriage, therefore, youngsters rejecting a marriage partner no longer face an excruciating burden of parental dissatisfaction, and families are no longer shamed within their communities if their young people maintain to reject! This may consist of a long progression of inter-generational social change, but without some such shift, it is difficult to see how the aspect of forced marriage can be fully tackled (Parekh, 2000).Bhopal (1999) demonstrates that exit works too much after the event; there has to be something that tackles the fundamental causes (Bhopal, 1999).
That said it is possibly shocking that the dialogue approach has not structured around being more as a focal point inUKinitiatives against forced marriage. It is present in the consultations with community groups that led into the discussions of the Working Group on Forced Marriage; it distinguishable attributes about arranged marriage; and is echoed in a number of current conferences directed at mobilizing religious and community leaders to expose the statement that all marriages must be based on consent. Yet, it is evident that all of the considerable progression have been in connection to exit; and most of the triumph stories around forced marriage has stepped through demanding a previously over-deferential perception towards cultural spokesmen, and allowing the protection of youngsters (not the ‘protection’ of their communities or culture) the vast priority – against the background of a progressive vocal denial of ‘multiculturalism’. However,Bhopal(1999) argues that theUK,Denmark,Netherlands, andFrancethat involve working more intimately with communities or community leaders seem unlikely to gain much favor. If exit fails, it is then more likely that regulation, not dialogue, will occur as the favored method (Bhopal, 1999; Parekh, 2000; Stopes-Roe and Cochrane, 1990).
Moreover, feminists criticizing multiculturalism locate themselves in redundant company. Feminists have conceptualized both caution and direct opposition towards working with community leaders, stressing that this usually implies working with the more conservative elements within a community; and they have commonly criticized the way ideas of ‘the community’ precede to separate internal differences and disputes. The aim, mainly, has been to influence a more diverse conception of each so-called community, and allow a far-reaching range of individuals and groups -together with women and young people – to speak about ‘community’ concerns. However, with multiculturalism in general on the defending side, these convey feminist concerns, which could be swept aside in a broader repudiation of cultural diversity. The conveyance of authoritarian parents and their community and religious allies could then be in work as part of a more arrogant assertion of the ‘superior’ norms of the common group (Bhabha and Shutter, 1994; Gill and Sundari, 2009; Okin, 1998).
So exit is incomplete: it is not a choice for everyone; and tackles the effects rather than the cause. However, given the kind of alteration in inter-generational power relations that may be necessary to tackle the causes, and the doubts (feminist and otherwise) about making ‘communities’ the priority of public policy, there is a danger that governments will aim to short-circuit the procedure via the quick-fix of immigration control. They may aim to eradicate what they have come to believe as a mostly transnational drawback of forced marriage by the process of eradicating transnational marriage (Okin, 1998; Women’s Aid Federation, 2002). Although, the risk of this is much increased when all the most opaque policy initiatives concentrate on people coerced into transcontinental marriages, for this invariable influences the link between forced marriage and abroad spouse. The reasonably hands-off approach between forced marriages might be in deference to ‘working with the communities’. Thiara and Gill (2009) argues that this might be a more accidental result of FCO staff taking higher profile action than their counterparts in the Home Office. However, the effect is to stimulate the idea that marriage with an overseas spouse is mainly a backdoor route toUKcitizenship, while offering fewer protections to people forced into marriage within theUK. The more focus there is (this is already the case in public rhetoric, and potentially in public policy) on calculating forced marriage by controlling the number of overseas spouses, the less likelihood there is of building alliances within communities; the more feeling there is of public authorities, the less chance of anything beyond either exit or regulation (Women’s Aid Federation, 2002; Thiara and Gill, 2009).
While initiatives allow exit being crucial, they are also limited, and need to be coincided with other developments that will help processes of internal community transform. Clear and predictable difficulties enclose this last, for if the focus is on conciliating community spokesmen so as to get them to speak against forced marriage, there is a risk that the conciliation becomes capitulation to conservative norms; while if the emphasis is on funding groups that act for the victims of forced marriage, risks alienating the more traditional community representatives (Okin, 2002). However, these problems cannot be taken as a reason for inaction. They remind us, rather, that more focus needs to be devoted to the question of who speaks for any certain community, and more focus be given to identifying representative voices that reflect the full diversity of views (Gill and Mitra-Kahn, 2009).
One impression of modern policy in theUKis that the very real complexities in obtaining this have influenced a preference for the simplicities of either exit or regulation over the complexities of the dialogue approach. So far, exit has won out – with some very good results. Given its limitations, conversely, it seems likely that focus will shift to regulation, perhaps through improved restrictions on the age of marriage with overseas partners. If this happens, it will be widely viewed as a covert form of immigration control; and the chances of internal social change will be reduced (Okin, 1998; Gill and Mitra-Kahn, 2009).
Tackling Forced Marriage:
Much of the work has already started. In the last decade, gender-based violence moved from the dark to the forefront. It is progressively documented as a violation of human rights, as a public health problem and as a crime against women and society. Just ten years ago a rapist inCosta RicaorPeru, for instance, could avoid prosecution by offering to marry his victim. Now, the laws granting rapists impunity have been repealed. Just ten decades ago, female genital mutilation (FGM) was legal inBurkina Faso,EgyptandGhana. Now the Governments of those countries, as well as others, have banned it and just ten years ago Cambodians did not even have a phrase for violence against women in the Khmer language (Benhabib, 2002).
In the 21st century phrases such as rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment are part of the language and shared understanding of many Cambodians, enabling activists to start work on evaporating this violence. Women the world over, have been the chief agents of the extraordinary sea change in attitudes. Working as part of international team, via regional, national and local groups, teaming up with each other and with governments, lawyers, health-care workers, police and judges (UNIFEM, 2003).
Positively, gender-based violence is being pushed to be within a human rights agenda, advocates have been proficient to put demands on governments to fulfill their duties under international law to discipline and avert such violence. In response, governments have introduced new laws and strengthened old legislation, making domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, FGM, trafficking and other aspects of violence against women criminal offences. Forty-five nations have laws that unambiguously stop domestic violence and twenty-one more are sketching out new legislations to do so, while in many others criminal assault laws have been amended to conceal domestic violence. 118 countries had conveyed tax national action plans to put into action their commitments to the Platform for Action shaped by the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing1995).
Much improvement is accumulated on a base of international standards and policy recommendations like the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) and the Beijing Platform for Action, both of which emerged from global negotiating processes and as a result have been arranged by virtually all the world’s governments. The UN has also chosen 25 November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a day that had previously become a rallying point for millions of people and groups working together throughout the world. These principles and policies, joint with the augmented attention they have brought to the issue, have glided to momentous advances in bringing the magistrates, law enforcement and health professionals into efforts to address violence against women (UNIFEM, 2003; Benhabib, 2002).
Furthermore, ground-breaking procedures like women’s police stations and ‘one-stop’ crisis centers that present medical care, legal and psychological counseling, education services and job referrals as a cluster are being recognized in a variety of countries. Governments need to understand that violence against women is not cultural but criminal, for more survivors to obtain support and to understand that they are not to be held responsible for the ferocious attacks they have endured, represents massive progress (UNICEF, 2000; UNIFEM, 2003).
Gender-based violence is embedded in the configuration of power relations between women and men and it is bound up in conventional gendered roles and expectations. As a cluster, women often are inadequate in relation to the power structures, the law, the resources and the education that would provide them to put an end to violence. Also, even when they do have the ability to prevent individual cases of violence (UNICEF, 2000).
However, the resources to achieve the blueprint outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action and the national action plans perpetuated have not been made accessible. Governments, foundations, businesses and other institutions systematically rely on countless overworked and under-staffed women’s organizations, yet the main actors in the fight for the rights of women and for the removal of gender-based violence. Greater investment is clearly needed argue UNICEF (2000). Although, there are certain hopeful indications as financial institutions and the private sector investigate new strategies. For instance, The Inter-American Development Bank has started to offer loans to countries concerned in increasing their citizens’ security.Chile, theDominican Republic,PanamaandUruguayare some of the countries that have applied for loans, and have dedicated part of the funds to stimulate national plans that comprise of gender-based violence as a vital factor (UNICEF, 2000).
UNIFEM (2003) argue much more than money is required because there must also be investments in training and awareness-building. Gender-based violence has been recognized as the creation of learned behavior in societies controlled around dynamics of power and domination. However, it can be changed, UNIFEM (2003) further elaborate, mainly through education targeted at children, youth of both sexes and women themselves. A bundle of studies stress the correlation between women’s education and their ability to shield themselves from gender-based violence (UNIFEM 2003).
In 1999, the Home Secretary formulated a Working Group on Forced Marriage, with a remit to “investigate the problem of forced marriage in England and Wales and to make proposals for tackling it effectively” (Home Office, 2000:10). Majority of cases brought to the Working Group’s mind consisted of young women in their teens to early twenties, and many included a partner from abroad. However, the lack of reliable data made it difficult to establish the extent and nature of the problem, the figure usually cited in following discussions is at least 1,000 cases each year – this is widely regarded as an under-estimate (Sundari, 2008). The Group suggested a rather unsurprising set of guiding principles, such as involving the communities, monitoring the scale of the problem, training for relevant agencies and service providers, and promoting awareness of services and rights. However, it did not support the establishment of a specific offence of coercing a person to marry, illustrating that present laws against threatening behavior, assault, kidnap or rape already enabled an adequate basis for prosecution; and the most controversial aspect it addressed was the role of mediation (Patel, 2000).
A multitude of women’s groups had illustrated that the use of community based mediation services to ‘reconcile’ victims of forced marriage with their families situated the youngsters at additional risk of abuse. A cluster of factors had contributed to government awareness of forced marriage, such as the campaigning work of Southall Black Sisters; articles by journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (also a member of the Working Group); and the significantly improved representation of women after the 1997 election, which formed a larger group of MPs prepared to speak out against abuses of women (Southall Black Sisters, 2001).
Also, the accidents in 1999 of three high profile cases: the murder of Ruhksana Naz after she left an arranged marriage and became pregnant by another man; the plight of ‘Jack’ and ‘Zena’ Briggs, who spent years in hiding from bounty-hunters working by Zena’s family after she rejected the decision to marry a cousin in Pakistan; and the successful return to England of a young Sikh girl, KR, who was made a ward of court when her parents abducted her to India for the idea of marriage (Khanum, 2008). Meanwhile, the cancel of the ‘Primary Purpose rule’- one of the first acts of the 1997 Labour Government – was seen by some to have evaporated a vital source of protection against forced marriage. The rule dated back to 1980, however it was only made official in 1994, and had enabled immigration officials to reject entry to spouses when they felt the fundamental aim of the marriage was to gain entry to theUK (Dickens, 2010). There is, no known ‘primary purpose’ case consisting of two white spouses and the rule was hugely seen as racist (Menski, 1999, p.83). After its cancelation, it was argued (on no very clear evidence) that entry clearance officers inIslamabad andPakistan were now disadvantaged in demanding what they suspected to be non-consensual marriages. This claim was taken up by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and fears were raised in the media that the abolition of the rule was leading to an ample of incidence of forced marriages argues Dickens (2010) (Dickens, 2010).
Although, A Choice by Right had not conveyed forced marriage as a solely transcontinental affair, following initiatives have hugely concentrated on what is known as ‘the overseas dimension’. Two months after publication of the report, the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced a joint action plan to ‘tackle the overseas dimension of forced marriage’ (Home Office, 2000). This promised to produce a dedicated Community Relations desk in the Consular Division; to gather statistics; toughen links with police forces overseas; and allow female victims of forced marriage to be easily seen by trained female members of staff in overseas consulates. Along with other recommendations, these conjured that relatives, friends, community leaders or neighbors should not be used as interpreters, and that no-one should be sent back to the family home against there will. Before this, police officers had consistently treat allegations of forced marriage as matters of internal domestic dispute, and instead of helping youngster disentangle themselves from family pressures, had sometimes returned them to the ‘protection’ of their families (Mama, 1996).
Such an outcome is now less likely. A Choice by Right had taken a rather unsure place on mediation, identifying its possible dangers while upholding that it should be accessible for all who wished it. Consequent guidelines mirror a progressive appreciation that comprise of the wider family or community can decrease in shielding the individual. The guiding principle for police, for instance, alarms officers to the likelihood that the members within the extended or nuclear family may falsely accuse a missing family member of theft, therefore gaining police assistance to identify a young person who has left home to evade a forced marriage (Mama, 1996; Home Office, 2002). Rules for social workers establish that neither the family or those with the influential power and control in the community should be approached if the young person conspicuously ask for this; and that young people make a statement as missing should be privately interviewed in order to set up if it is in their best interest to return home (Deveaux, 2000; Mama, 1996).
Furthermore, the most clear component of the Government’s scheme has been to generate the Community Liaison Unit in the FCO. Because its geography implies the Unit deals with cases consisting of marriage between a person situated within theUKand a partner from abroad, and yearly has a caseload of more than 200 cases (Deveaux, 2000). In certain circumstances, people contact the Unit for help as they fear their family is preparing to take them away for a marriage. Resource wise, staff structure private interviews to talk through the issues, aiming either to deter them from joining the trip or, failing that, to make sure they are fully indulged with information about who to contact for help. In other cases, the contact comes via a third party, reporting a friend, family member, or girlfriend who has travelled to the Indian sub-continent but not returned. The Unit aims to contact the ‘missing’ person, persuading them to visit the local office of the British High Commission for a private interview with trained staff to begin whether there is certainly a problem. Because the High Commission can expose emergency passports and lend money for a flight back to theUK, this has proved reasonably effective (Mama, 1996; Home Office, 2002).
When families block this, what are usually knows as ‘rescue missions’ may be planned. This has been evident to be most feasible inIndiaandBangladesh, where staff of the local High Commission and/or local police have been able to convey an escort for suspected victims to allow them to participate in a private interview (Mama, 1996).
However, political conditions in Pakistan – such as in the Mirpur area of Kashmir – have consistently proved too dangerous for this, and the main alternative there has been is to take out a writ of habeas corpus. This is a relatively well established practice in cases of forced marriage in both Bangladesh and Pakistan (Hossein, 2000); where successful, it will lead to a court order requiring the family to expose the ‘missing person’ so as to identify whether she/he is being held against there will. Although, this has been engaged to good effect in cases consisting inUK nationals, it is unavoidably a more long process; and because the bulk of cases dealt with by the CLU involvePakistan – currently around 70% – problems of access limit the Unit’s overall success rate. However, the Unit has now assisted in the repatriation of more than one hundred young people (Hossein, 2000; Mama, 1996).
The other chief area of public intervention has been through domestic police work. One of the earliest initiatives was in Bradford, home to the second largestUKcommunity of Pakistani origin, where community liaison work had progressively concentrated on family conflicts within the Asian community. Many of these involved force into marriage. In the mid 1990s, retired police officer Philip Balmforth was appointed to a new post of Community Officer (Asian Families); his case load – not all cases of forced marriage – has subsequently risen to 300 a year (Benhabib, 2002). As with the FCO initiative, the work is very accurately concentrated on exit: directing people to alternative accommodation in refuges, housing associations, or council flats; and usually enabling a protective escort to enable them to collect personal property from the family home before making their escape (Hossein, 2000).
In 2001, the FCO and West Yorkshire Police prepared a three-day conference on the aspect of forced marriage. Following this, the FCO funded a programme of information dissemination, visits and training between forces in theUK,Pakistan,IndiaandBangladesh, with seeing to improve procedures for handling with abductions of British nationals for the purposes of forced marriage. Officers from Bradford, South Yorkshire, the Metropolitan and Leicestershire police forces attended a police conference at thePunjabPoliceAcademyin 2001; and West Yorkshire police have been certainly proactive in developing training programmes and exchanges with their equivalents inPakistan(Hossein, 2000; Mama, 1996). In a separate and particularly promising development in 2003, senior members of theUKand Pakistani judiciaries met inLondonto develop a protocol on international cases of child abduction (Mama, 2000).
Three points stem out from these initiatives. The first is that they rely on a firm division between arranged and forced marriage. The reasons for this are clear enough: it makes it easier to bring community leaders on board if they can be certain that government action is not aimed against the practice of arranged marriage; it also helps dishearten any presumption within the non-Asian communities that arranged marriage is per se suspect. Some such division is absolutely necessary, but on the range between marriages forced on young people against their will and those arranged on their behalf with their full consent, there are inexorably grey areas (Mama, 2000; Okin, 2002).
The second point is that all the main advances cloud around exit: making it difficult for individuals in danger with a forced marriage to eradicate themselves from the family forcing them; or easier to abscond a forced marriage. There has been a lot of work in this area, and the support now accessible is indisputably much enhanced. However, pro-active the authorities, exit formulates at a high price to the individuals worried. In particular, when exit from a marriage equates too closely with exit from a family, this is a problematical route to take (Hossein, 2002; Okin, 2002).
The third point is that the main concentration of activity has been on marriages involving an overseas partner. The Home Office has no equivalent to the FCO’s Community Liaison Unit for tackling instances of forced marriage betweenUK
citizens; and although the existence of a substantial Home Office unit devoted to tackling domestic violence, has not recognized the violence of an unwanted marriage as a focal point. The consequential focus on marriages include overseas spouses stems the view that all marriages concentrate on overseas partners and they are suspects, and that all is well in the formulation of marriages within theUK. At least, it also persuades the use of immigration law as the main way of tackling the problem -therefore, the nostalgia in some quarters for the Primary Purpose rule (Hossein, 2002; Okin, 2002).
Above all, this work has aimed to highlight the intrinsic complexities with regards to the issue of forced and arranged marriages. It is possible to see the degree to which feminist outlook enhances our ability to effectively understand this most serious of issues. However, the fact remains that the division between forced and arranged marriages remains unsuccessfully forged. The impact of this failing has been very serious inBritain. Nonetheless, the various discussions undertaken in chapter four have highlighted a variety of positive developments. Thus, in terms of proactive policy moves, there are a number of positive progressions in recent years. Perhaps the most positive of these is the understanding that forced and arranged marriages cannot be conceptualized within the same policy framework. Thus, the acceptance that arranged marriages are an acceptable cultural norm for many communities inBritainhas finally been accepted in the public policy realm. Thus, the real issue of forced marriages and how to combat this most negative of female issues can be addressed with the necessary isolation.
Furthermore, recent policy developments which have seen increased effective collaboration between British agencies and those inSouth East Asiaalso represent a positive development. Nonetheless, the various issues and debates undertaken during the course of this work have clearly highlighted the serious problems which remain. Thus, it is likely that this issue will remain one of academic, political and social attention for some time to come.
Chapter one discussed how forced marriage became legalized and it analyzed the definition of forced and arranged marriages by exploring similarities and differences. I then analyzed forced/arranged marriage in its social, global and cultural context and conceptualize its meanings and its affects. Moreover, exploration of the extent of forced marriages in Britainamongst South Asian community was outlined from its historical framework to its contemporary context i.e. 21st century.
Chapter two showcased theoretical explanations – feminist perspectives, power through religion and culture, male dominance through power; patriarchy. As well as the aspect of coercion and consent, how sometimes they can both be intertwined and complex to comprehend was the forefront in this chapter.
Chapter three took a global perspective again, when I scrutinized the immigration aspect and how it impacted upon forced marriage and how influential it can be still be presently. Also, why and how policy makers are neglecting immigration, especially its influence in forced marriage and how it does dangerously does that.
Chapter four looked at tackling forced marriage, how it can be tackled and why it should be. The procedures like women’s police stations and ‘one-stop’ crisis centers that present medical care, legal and psychological counseling, education services and job referrals was the foundations of my argument in this final chapter with extended points relating to other relevant and most importantly, helpful institutions.
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