ACCORDING to analysts, arranged marriage is a type of union where the bride and groom are selected by individuals other than the couple themselves, particularly by family members such as the parents or elderly members of the family due to one reason or the other.
It is more in the nature of a marriage between the families and not the couples themselves.
Historically, research has it that the practice are common in countries which follow Sharia or lslamic law as the basis of their legal system like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. Among the oriental societies, Japan is one of those countries where the system of arranged marriage continues to be practiced and in some parts in Nigeria.
Until the first half of the 20th century, arranged marriages were common in migrant families in the United States. They were sometimes called picture-bribe marriages among Japanese American immigrants because the bride and groom knew each other only through the exchange of photographs before the day of their marriage.
Such marriages are not just some forgotten custom from the past. They still happen every day around the world.
Some historical exceptions are known, such as courtship and betrothal rituals during the Renaissance period of Italy and Gandharvaha marriages in the Vedic period of India.
It further disclosed that in China, it is sometimes called blind marriages. A marriage was a negotiation and decision between parents and other older members of two families. The boy and girl were typically told to get married, without a right to demur, even if they had never met each other until the wedding day.
Also, in most other parts of the world, it continues to vary in degrees and increasing in quasi-arranged form, along with autonomous marriages.
However, some people in Anambra State reacted on the issue. According to Ihuoma Onah, a herbalist residing in Awgbu, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, ” a woman who refuses to go through with an arranged marriage in the olden days was suspected to have committed an abominable act, or may be considered to have dishonored her entire family.
This being the case, her male relatives may be ridiculed or harassed and any of her siblings may find it impossible to enter into a marriage. In these cases, outcasting or killing the woman will be the next option because it is a taboo for disputing the request of the elders”, he noted.
Ernest Umor, a wine tapper in the area, explained that ” in the olden days, women don’t have a say as it relates to marriage partners. In fact, those days, they were used to settle debts. But today, everything has changed all in the name of civilisation.”
Emeka Adibe, a farmer, stated that even though women don’t decide whom to marry before civilisation came to place, fathers make decision on who to marry their female children to. They look out for those men who are capable in farming and rearing of livestock.
The amount of yam barn you have, extent of land you have, among others are considered and if one is found worthy, then you are qualified to marry their female children. But today, those things are no more obtainable.”
On the contrary, Chimagboso Okpala, a human right activist disclosed that,” over human history through modern times, the practice of arranged marriages has been encouraged by a combination of factors, such as the practice of child marriage, late marriage, tradition, culture, religion, poverty and limited choice, disabilities, wealth and inheritance issues, politics, social, as well as ethnic conflicts.”
Okpala noted that child marriage, particularly those below the age of 12, don’t prepare or provide the individual much opportunity to make an informed, free choice about matrimony. And up till today, in most cases, we still see such happening even among the rich people.
These children are being forcefully engaged in marriages that is not of their choice ( if actually they know what matrimony is all about). And this is why we have greater number of marriage breakages. These are implicitly arranged marriages”.
Meanwhile, Ifeanyi Okafor, an educationist, stressed that in rural areas, such kind of marriages occur due to poverty and lack of options, such as being able to attend school. Parents arrange marriages for their wards to ensure their child’s financial security and reinforce social ties.
They believe it offers protection and reduces the daughter’s economic burden on the family due to how costly it is to feed, clothe and (optionally) educate a girl. By marrying their daughter to a good family, the parents improve their social status by establishing a social bond between each other,” he pointed out.
He further stated that, “late marriage, particularly past the age of 30, reduces the pool of available women for autonomous marriages. Therefore, the introduction of arranged marriages would be the next productive option,” he noted.
Again, Rosemary Ifenso, a health educator disclosed that some migrants in particular areas have limited choices of partners, particularly when they are stereotyped, segregated or avoided by the majority population. This encourages homogamy and arranged marriages within the ethnic group.
Funnily in many cultures, as well according to Fela Idogwu, a Yoruba woman,” in parts of Africa and the Middle East, daughters are valuable on the marriage market because the groom and his family must pay cash and property for the right to marry the daughter.
This is termed as bride-wealth and locally by various names such as Lobola and Wine Carrying. The bride-wealth is typically kept by the bride’s family, after the marriage, and is a source of income to poor families. The brothers, father, and male relatives of the bride typically take keen interest in arranging her marriage to a man who is willing to pay the most in exchange for the right to marry her”.
Musa Muhammed, an Hausa man voiced out that “some religious denominations recognise marriages only within the faith. Of the major religions of the world, Islam forbids marriage of girls of a devout parent to a man who does not belong to that religion. In other words, Islam forbids marriage of Muslim girls to non-Muslim men, and the religious punishment for those who marry outside might be severe.
This is one of the motivations of arranged marriages in Islamic minority populations in some cases.”
Speaking on whether to stop or to encourage arranged marriages, Ijeoma Nwuso, a house wife noted that,” preventing arranged marriages may harm many individuals who want to get married and they can benefit from parental participation in finding and selecting a mate. Parents, families and friends should be able to provide an independent perspective when they participate in learning and evaluating the other person, past history, behavior, as well as the couple’s mutual compatibility”.
She went further to suggest that “parents and family should provide more than input in the screening and selection process; often, they provide financial support for the wedding, housing, emotional support and other valuable resources for the couple as they navigate past the wedding into married life, and help raise their children”…, she concluded.