Whenever we think of forced marriage, we immediately picture an oppressed woman who got beaten up, assaulted, or abused because she doesn’t want the person that her family agreed on.
Women are undoubtedly at the forefront when it comes to who suffers the negative consequences of forced marriage. The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) in the UK reported in June 2020 that 80 percent of those who were forced into marriage were women — but what about the remaining 20 percent?
Males in our community are oftentimes victims of what’s known as Honor-Based Violence/Abuse (HBV/A) — which revolves around the idea of being assaulted and/or manipulated for not being able to conform to the norms of toxic and/or fragile masculinity that are set by patriarchal societies. If anything, there are behavioral changes that you need to know about because they manifest as signs that will tell you if you, or someone you know, are being forced into an arranged marriage.
But before we tap into that, let’s take a look at how Muslim males get subjected to HBV/A.
Deceit & Death Threats
Some males get death threats from their families because they rejected the woman that their parents chose for them. They are also blackmailed and pressured by their parents.
Worse still, if these males are living abroad, their families will deceive them so that they pay them a visit. And when they do, they find that their parents have already set them up with the “wives” they’ve chosen. What’s more, they will do everything they can do to get their single son into that forced marriage.
Aggression & Violence
More often than not, the blackmailing escalates to aggression as families end up beating their sons for standing up for themselves.
But, even after being forced into marriage, these males end up fleeing their family house because guess what? They can’t just pretend to love some woman that they don’t love.
This one is oftentimes practiced by the males’ mothers, who would start to wail and overreact so that their sons would feel guilty of putting them in such a “suffering.”
We know that families tend to force females into arranged marriages because parents don’t believe in the innate right of females to decide their own future. But what about males? Why do they get forced? Supposedly, the patriarchal system gives them privilege over females, right?
Well, that’s not the case. Patriarchal norms don’t just devastate us women, but it also causes a lot of damage to men, too.
For example, because of toxic masculinity, males oftentimes shy away from asking for help when they get subjected to any kind of abuse since they think that asking for help means that they’re weak.
On top of that, they get anxious about coming up short with regard to abiding by these norms of toxic masculinity.
If anything, this kind of anxiety, better known as fragile masculinity, can push males into adopting toxic behaviors so that they get back their sense of “manhood.”
In essence, males who get subjected to HBV/A will end up showing at least one of the following signs:
- Failure to return from a visit to their homeland
- Fear of being perceived as “feminine”
- Feelings of guilt
- Isolation, or even becoming a missing person
All of this takes us to this one question: why?
Why Males Get Forced into an Arranged Marriage
Just as it happens to women, the families want their sons to marry specific people because they want to:
- Keep a promise they made to the other family
- Protect the “honor” and the “reputation” of the family
- Prevent their sons from having a spouse that doesn’t belong to their circle
- Make sure that their sons won’t have a same-sex relationship
How To Prevent Forced Marriages
- Remind your parents that forced marriages are prohibited in Islam
- Seek out professional help
- Ask someone you trust to help you convince your parents
- Educate yourself about your legal rights that will protect you from getting into a marriage without your consent
The Bottom Line
Yes, we women suffer a lot because of the male privilege. That said, claiming that all males have privilege over females has contributed to marginalizing males who get oppressed by the same patriarchal society.
That’s why we need to recognize males who are silently suffering. Being a feminist doesn’t mean we get a pass to brush off any injustice happening to males.
We all deserve to have the freedom of choice, regardless of our faith, age, gender, assigned sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, background, class, caste, or any other identifier.