Education

Did You Know? By Fevzi Hussein

‘Did You Know?’

 

The merits of an arranged marriage have been argued for decades. Many moons ago, marriages were far less complex. Do not get arranged marriages mixed-up with forced marriages. In an arranged marriage each party has a choice (although this is debatable even in some arranged marriages), whereas in a forced marriage the parents dictate the running and the individuals involved are mere pawns in a ‘match made in hell’.

Some arranged marriages are the substance of real romance. Take my parents as an example. My dad came to the UK in 1961 to escape the turbulence that existed in Cyprus. Mrs Özgül Hüseyin and Mr Mehmet Hüseyin © Fevzi HusseinIn fairness he also left as an economic migrant, as there was not much hope for Turkish Cypriots to make a decent living in the North – in 55 years not much has changed on that point. My father took up wrestling on the amateur scene fighting for the Sparta Wresting Club and fought as the ‘The Turk’ (they were very original with their names in the 60s). He fought the likes of Big Daddy, Cat Weasel and Mick McManus. Let’s take a look at how my dad met my mum. They were from the same village (Galatya) so they kind of knew each other already, but it was not the done thing for boys and girls to mix back then. So, when my dad came to England in 1961 he did his best to earn an honest living and when he got his foundations sorted he sent his wife to be a picture. Along with the picture came a message “do you want to marry me?” My mum looked at the picture and replied “Yes” and effectively that was the end of that. Almost 50 years on they are still in love with and care passionately for each other. A real success story and a big tick in the box of the arranged marriages.

The concept of arranged marriages is in reality becoming more diluted here in the UK. Even in North Cyprus people are going out dating and consolidating their relationships BEFORE anything becomes formal; which in fairness is the right thing to do. After all, why would you want to go out with someone you don’t really know, never mind marry them? Anything other than not getting to know the person properly is a car-crash waiting to happen.

I did some interesting (informal) research with the British High Commission in Cyprus, which revealed some quite shocking stats in relation to broken marriages. In circumstances where one of the parents moved to the UK from North Cyprus, had children in the relationship and then for whatever the reason the marriage breaks down, there was a growing problem where children were being abducted from the UK without the consent of the UK based parent. In most cases this was done in the knowledge that the relevant section of the Hague Convention does not extend to North Cyprus and the repercussions of this would be that it would be very difficult for the UK-based parent of the children to gain any access to the kids, as the jurisdiction in North Cyprus is not recognised anywhere. In order to get justice that particular parent would need to come to North Cyprus and work through a legal system which many simply do not bother with. Had North Cyprus been bound to the Hague Convention (even specific articles within) there would be automatic rights in relation to parental rights and the return of children.

As part of my research I also spoke to the specialist charity Re-Unite, who confirmed that North Cyprus was a real problem location in this respect. No figures were provided in terms of the numbers of cases but the fact the place is on the radar of both this leading charity and the British High Commission suggests to me that this is a problem which needs tackling. I do not expect the TRNC authorities to do anything, but they could surprise me – I think more importantly this article can raise awareness of this issue god forbid anyone finds themselves faced with this position.

Clearly many arranged marriages work and work well but when they go wrong there is the potential for catastrophic results. I wonder if there have been any FOI (Freedom of Information) requests specifically on this issue.

As the 3rd generation becomes 4 and so on, my children will grow up to be free from this culture. There will be no restrictions on them as to who they want to marry. Very unhealthily I have heard parents commonly dictate what ethnic background their children should marry – this is simply another symptom of arranged marriages. This normally comes with the caveat “you can’t marry anyone black or English or Greek”. We know this as racism. At least that is what I call it. I make no apology about making this comment. It will make some readers cringe, others it will embarrass. I don’t care. Sometimes the truth hurts.

I am happy to offer advice to anyone who feels vulnerable in the type of circumstances I have outlined. The people at Re-Unite are real experts in this area and are also worth speaking to. For their details click here

You can also follow me on Twitter @fevzihussein and why not call by to my blog as well click here

 

2 replies »

  1. Interesting article on piece of Cypriot culture that is dying ! The culture that “everyone was entitled to have a spouse”…. if you could not find one the parents or neighbours or relatives will surely would find you one .Considering the circumstances of arranged marriages the separation rate I believe was very low in Cyprus going back 50 years, compared to nowadays ! However, I feel sorry for all the children who become pawns in a marriage that goes sour and where parents separate, causing trauma to their children due to vindictiveness of one of the parties that denies the rights to the other, to see their children. Thanks to Fevzi Hussein and Cyprus Scene for reminding us of this old Cypriot custom.

  2. Sermen, thanks for your comment. In many respects we have a culture which is diluting as the generations develop. I agree entirely with your comment that historically divorces were effectively unheard of – I think this applied to both arranged and conventional marriages. Now, at the first sign of a disagreement men and women struggle to mediate their way to a compromise. The aspect you mention re the kids is definitely he saddest part. When a parent does this deliberately and uproots their children, normally against their wishes, this really is unforgivable. i guess when those affected kids grow up and are old enough to make their own minds up the parent in question might have some difficult questions to answer!