Friday, November 27, 2009

Choosing Death to Escape an Arranged Marriage

Last week our Austrian correspondent ESW reported on the “disappearing girls” among Austria’s Turkish community. One of the girls who disappeared was named Nuray, and since that report her body has been found: a suicide.

Below is ESW’s translation of a report from about the tragic finale to Nuray’s story:

Missing Turkish girl (26) found dead

Suicide out of fear of arranged marriage

  • Brother admits: “She was under pressure.”
  • She was to have gotten married in December.

A young Turkish girl was found dead in the [river] Mur shortly before getting married. Suspicion: Suicide as a result of her arranged marriage.

Graz. It should have been the happiest day of her life. Now it appears that her impending marriage caused a catastrophe for the young woman. For twenty-seven days the entire country worried about the pretty young girl from Turkey, Nuray Büyükkocabas, but now there is certainty: The twenty-six-year-old is dead and her body was pulled from a river power station near Mellach on Friday.

There is no evidence of foul play, but police are “investigating in all areas.” However, there is growing evidence of a horrible human tragedy that may have been the cause of this mysterious death.
- - - - - - - - -
Flashback: On October 25, Nuray says good-bye to her brother, “to take a walk”, she says. She leaves behind everything of value: Her cash-card, her cell phone, her passport. When she does not return in the evening, her parents alarm the police. The criminal investigation department immediately takes charge of the search, while her family frantically goes public: “She was so happy and excited about her engagement and her wedding,” the family asserted at the beginning of the investigation.

During the course of the investigation a different story emerged: There appeared to have been a fatal misunderstanding. The would-be wedding of her dreams quickly turned into a nightmare for Nuray. Her brother admitted that her sister was pressured [into marrying].

The drama began this past summer when Nuray met a 23-year-old Turkish-Kurdish asylum-seeker. The young man did not waste any time and quickly asked for her hand in marriage. This was too fast for the young woman. She hesitated, wanting to think the whole thing over. When she was put under pressure she finally agreed. And then everything went rapidly: her fiance’s family put an engagement ring on her finger, a big engagement party was arranged, and the wedding date was set.

Nuray continued to tell her family about her aversion to getting married, but the pressure kept rising. On October 25, she left her family’s apartment, leaving everything behind.

An autopsy will now be performed on her body to find out the exact cause of death. Experts believe it possible that she acted out of despair, seeing her only way out by jumping into the freezing Mur.

Short side article:

90% of all Turkish marriages are arranged, says expert.

Vienna — Nuray’s death renews discussions about forced marriages, because in Austria 90% of all Turkish marriages are arranged ones. Also affected are women from Afghanistan, Albania, and Chechnya.

Elif Kahraman, working for Caritas, does not consider Nuray’s case singular. “These girls are subjected to tremendous psychological pressure and violence.”

In Vienna alone 39 victims fled to safe houses last year; this year the number will be at least four times higher.


Unknown said...

--90% of all Turkish marriages are arranged--

And how is this a thing worthy of derision?

Arranged marriages are often made with long term interests of the family and are much more likely to be stable than the ones induced by a load of oxytacin.

Zenster said...

qwerty: And how is this a thing [an arranged marriage] worthy of derision?.

Let me count the ways:

It violates an individual's right to determine what shall be the source of their future happiness.

It is often nothing more or less than a near-pedophilic contract for much older men who present no desirable qualities to the―typically much younger―bride involved.

It represents an institution that continues to treat women as as an underclass and not much more than family property.

It perpetuates the entrenchment of Islam where a free choice of spouse might lead to an escape from its deadly clutches.

I could go on for hours but I think the point is rather clear.

Arranged marriages are often made with long term interests of the family and are much more likely to be stable than the ones induced by a load of oxytacin.

If by "oxytacin" you actually mean oxytocin, besides inducing labor, this well-known hormone may facilitate interpersonal bonding, a key component to any healthy relationship.

From the link: The study builds upon previous knowledge of the important role oxytocin plays in the reproductive life of mammals. The hormone facilitates nest building and pup retrieval in rats, acceptance of offspring in sheep, and the formation of adult pair-bonds in prairie voles. In humans, oxytocin stimulates milk ejection during lactation, uterine contraction during birth, and is released during sexual orgasm in both men and women.

An arranged marriage too often has nothing to do with love and instead is intended to promote the family's estate, business or poiltical power base. All of which, just as often produces loveless and dysfunctional relationships where abuse or domestic violence―again, a vast majority of it against women―tend to flourish.

Arranged marriages are a misogynistic practice on a par with FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), that perpetuate a tradition of sterile relationships along with an environment of servility and abuse which no sane woman should tolerate.

I hope that this clarifies things for you.

X said...

If stability were the only criteria for marriage you'd have a point, but it isn't. Never mind that the "stability" of these marriages is enforced, a marriage based on love and mutual respect (Which you will rarely find in an arranged marriage) is far more stable a home for children to grow up in than one based on force. And the "long term interests"of the family? Give me a break, these marriages are arranged because women in Islam are seen as little more than property. Long-term prostitution, that's all arranged marriage is.

Unknown said...

--It violates an individual's right to determine what shall be the source of their future happines--

That's pretty much it. West believes in Individual freedom and will. We don't and it is in the bottom of the priorities.

--Give me a break, these marriages are arranged because women in Islam are seen as little more than property--

--Never mind that the "stability" of these marriages is enforced,--

First of all I am not a muslim. So I cannot speak pretty much of the arranged marriages in the islamic world.

Usually, in hindu arranged marriages, polygamy is prohibited, young women have as much freedom as young men in mate selection.

We do not view marriage as a fulfillment of romance. It should be a enduring bond, supported by families on both sides, for brining up next generation of children. The couple may be unhappy, but you WILL have to sacrifice few pleasures for a stable society.

GIANTS FAN said...

You have a great blog here. I'm a first-time visitor but I like what I'm seeing. I have a blog myself where people from all around the world come and debate on popular issues. I think you would provide some valuable insight to us all. Also, I was wondering if we could do a link exchange. If you would like to, please leave a comment under my "Compadres" page saying when you have my link up and I'll return the favor.

Please let me know.


bewick said...

Let's be clear. There is a major difference between "arranged" and "forced". The latter does seem to be common amongst Muslims but more likely due to cultural and tribal preservation of wealth (and in the case of the UK at least freebie visas from the "home village" and tribe/family) than "religion".
This girl's "marriage" wasn't forced as such but the "culture" would no doubt prevent her changing her mind. (if she had, under pressure, agreed in the first place.) That would "dishonour" the family.
Hey I was 3 times engaged and twice dumped the girl (or did they dump me?). No-one was dishonoured although there were major dents in pride!! (and HOW I now wish I'd held on to one of those 2 and not chosen the 3rd!)

I happen to be friendly with a Sikh family.
They appear perfectly happy, after nearly 20 years, and both were born in the UK. Theirs was what they describe as an "arranged" marriage but both had the absolute option to refuse the match (and several "matches" come to that.)

Their siblings though ALL imported spouses from poor Indian villages because that is the cultural norm (not cousins for Sikhs though - forbidden.) It is this "cultural" thing which must be eradicated or reduced to only genuine "love matches".
In any EU country and likely the USA there should already be sufficient of the cultural group to avoid imports except in isolated cases!!
The UK is very lamely trying to curb it but there are more holes in the rules and their execution than can be found in a collander.
Not that the above much helps the argument but I thought it worth saying.

X said...

qwerty, If you had explained that you were Hindu from the start then perhaps we could have come to a better understanding of what you actually meant by "arranged marriage". It's obvious that your definition is different to the one most people operating in a western cultural understanding would perceive it to mean. An arranged marriage, to a westerner, is generally understood as bewick described: forced. Now, I'd forgotten the more benign Hindu practice in the process of my little tirade but I'm not going to apologise for it. You perhaps unwittingly stooped to that rather nasty debating technique known as the gotcha, where a little information is introduces to prompt a particuar response, which is then batted down with more information that isn't actually related, but appears to be due to similar terminology.

I don't like gotchas. They're dishonest. I'm not saying you're dishonest, just that the practice is.

As for your Hindu arranged marriages, well, that's cultural. Our culture has thrived for some time on the romantic ideal of marriage and done quite well out of it until fairly recently (which is another argument) and that's how it is. Your arranged marriages are infinitely preferable to those of Islam but, to a westerner, they're still a bit dodgy.

Perhaps it would help to redefine the Islamic practice as "forced marriage" rather than arranged, so that the arranged marriage idea can take on a more benign meaning.

bewick said...


Maybe you misundertood me or maybe you were a little inattentive in your wording. You appeared to say that I had said that "arranged" was "forced". I most certainly did not. What I said, or implied, was that "arranged" gave both contestants the right to refuse. Certainly looks like Hindus follow the same route - and they would since Sikhism arose from a blending of Hindu and Islamic faiths - the better bits though.

I'm sure you knew that and meant that - your other postings certainly suggest high intellect.

Anonymous said...

While suicide is certainly not out of bounds, who determined that it was suicide? The Turkish authorities, who have every reason to whitewash Islamic honor killings?

X said...

Bewick, no, I said that the general perception in the west is that arranged = forced, because the exposure most people have to "arranged" marriages is actually islamic forced marriage masquerading under the name of "arranged".

bewick said...

Yes I can now see what you were saying and realise that you were in fact agreeing with me, which wasn't immediately obvious.