Choice, Culture and the Politics of Belonging: The Emerging Law of Forced and Arranged Marriage


Enright, Mairead. 2009. “Choice, Culture and the Politics of Belonging: The Emerging Law of Forced and Arranged Marriage.” The Modern Law Review 72 (3): 331–59.

Author: Mairead Enright


The article discusses recent legal and policy initiatives aimed at preventing forced marriage, placing them in the broader context of the exclusionary governance of British Muslim cultural difference. It argues that forced marriage is understood almost entirely as a product of cultural difference. Thus, attempts to prevent forced marriage focus on the control of cultural pressures at the point of marriage. This near-exclusive focus on culture has two consequences for women. First, inadequate attention is paid to the social and economic problems which intersect with and aggravate cultural factors restricting women's marital choice. Second, this problematisation of culture has generated paternalistic legislation with the consequence that young women who wish to follow cultural practice and fully consent to an arranged marriage may be prevented from marrying as they choose.

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, International Law, Sexual Violence

Year: 2009

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