Forced Marriage

Community Liaison Unit

Community Perceptions of Forced Marriage

Yunas Samad and John Eade

University of Bradford and University of Surrey Roehampton

The views expressed in this report are the authors??™ and do not necessarily reflect those of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


This is an analytical report for the Community Liaison Unit (CLU), Community Perceptions of Forced Marriage. This report provides the context, explores the problems and the perceptions of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities of forced marriages. Therefore, this report represents a comprehensive and rigorous synthesis of existing research evidence combined with primary data collected specifically for the report.

Chapter One Reviews the original aims of the research project and how they will be met by this report. It clearly sets out the focus of the research and delineates closely related issues that will not be investigated. It considers a variety of perspectives, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and then explains the strengths of a multi-dimensional approach and how this can be actualised in terms of method. It also discusses the following:??? ??? ??? ??? ??? Pros and Cons of Different Approaches Methodology This Research as a Comparative Study Data Collection Limitations of the Research


Chapter Two Provides the local context within which the two communities are located showing that they both are primarily rural in origin, working class, have low human capital and a substantial young population. The middle class professionals and elderly population are relatively small, both at national and local levels. Both groups suffer from a high degree of social stress making them dependent on bonding social capital, based in kin networks, to establish niches in the labour market. ??? Bradford o o o o o ??? History of migration Demography Social Stress Employment and Unemployment Education

Tower Hamlets o o o o o Economic and Cultural Background History of Migration Age and Sex Ratios Social Stress: National and Local Data Education


Chapter Three Examines marriage practices amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi

communities within the context of marriage and Britain generally, in among minority groups specifically. It provides an overview of endogamous marriage practices and examines factors that are salient to understanding forced marriages. It evaluates the following: ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? Marriage Group Boundaries and Marriage Kinship and Marriage Caste Honour Arranged and Love Marriages Trans-continental Marriages

This chapter reviews marriage practices, examining factors for high rates of marriage amongst the communities and the phenomenon of endogamy. Endogamous marriages are used to reinforce kinship of networks and group boundaries and to maintain the cultural distinctiveness of the group and its identity. However, both communities are highly diverse and marriage is conducted between sub-groups within these communities. Caste hierarchy and status are important motivating factors in the arrangements of marriage. Arranged marriages are not contracted between individuals but between families and families invest in the stability and success of marriages because


divorce and separation can result in inter-family feuding. There are various forms of arranged marriages and the social class and educational backgrounds of parents are closely linked to the degree of choice that is offered to children in the arrangement of marriages. Traditional arranged marriages are most common amongst the least qualified and the working class. Trans-continental marriages are associated with a limited marriage pool and the need to find sub-groups of similar status, educational and class backgrounds, and will thus persist into the foreseeable future.

Chapter Four Examines the causes of and the debates on forced marriages within the communities. A detailed examination of the forced marriage issue is followed by an analysis of community discussions about it. It discusses the following issues: ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? Forced Marriage – Definition and Numbers Motives of Forced Marriages Debates on Forced Marriages Parental Love, Duty and Reciprocity Denial about Forced Marriages Gender and Ethnicity Honour and Men in the Public Sphere


The chapter examines the definition of forced marriage in detail, considers various views on the extent of the problem and explores demographic explanations for the problem. While the motivations involved in forced marriages are complex, the chapter demonstrates that liaisons with the opposite sex are an important trigger for instigating the process of forced marriage. Communities have become reflective about the issue and realise that forced marriages do not work. Divorce, separation and running away from home are some of the consequences. The elderly are being forced to adjust and adapt in reaction to their children??™s demand for greater choice. While they want young people to accept their marriage decisions, the elderly are aware they cannot force them. Middle-aged participants believe that forced marriage will die out because they realise the un-Islamic nature of the practice. This group is acutely aware that they need to make pragmatic decisions to accommodate the wishes of their children or they will suffer dishonour by them running away. The general consensus is that force is unacceptable but community understanding of coercion does not include emotional and psychological pressure. This issue crops up in delicate situations such as inter-religious relations. Women, due to socialisation, are important enforcers of patriarchal norms and in many cases are the active agents in the process of forced marriages.


Chapter Five Examines generational differences in greater detail. It first defines the ambiguity of the categories `generation??™ and `youth??™ and then explores differences between young and old. The main issues covered are: ??? ??? ??? ??? Religion and Culture Social Change, Parents and Arranged Marriage Trans-continental Marriage Social Class and the Rise of Individualism

Generational differences are clearly emerging in a number of areas. The first area is the emergence of linguistic change, mainly among Pakistanis, where we are seeing English becoming the main language of communication. The young tend to identify themselves as Muslim, although this is truer for Pakistanis than Bangladeshis due to their different heritage. This is not an example of increasing religiosity but a shift in social identity. The shift is reflected in the difference between generations over what are considered to be important criteria for matrimony. Elders argue that religious and cultural factors should be taken into account, meaning that the person should be from the same ethnic group, while young people are saying that only religion is important. Marrying outside the ethnic group is acceptable, but marrying outside ones religion is unacceptable. Parents recognise the ground reality that their children??™s expectations of marriage are different, and are being forced to become more flexible or face unacceptable situations such as their


offspring running away. Trans-continental marriages are another area of difference. Young people argued that linguistic and cultural compatibility is important and only if appropriate candidates were not found in Britain would they look for a partner in South Asia. They do accept the concept of arranged marriage, but want a greater degree of choice and show a clear preference for marrying someone already living in Britain. For women educational compatibility is an important criterion. Young people are concerned also that community leaders have not adequately and seriously addressed the issue of forced marriage and show little confidence in them.

Chapter Six Considers the very strong response from the community about the project itself. It covers the following areas: ??? ??? Race and Islamophobia Immigration

These issues emerge spontaneously from the focus groups and indicate the sensitivity to the topic that was being investigated. The range of opinion was strongest amongst the elderly but was still evident among the youth. The research was seen as part of a veiled threat against arranged marriages. The reaction showed how important it was for policy initiatives to be articulated in a sensitive manner, otherwise they would face a hostile community rallying around the accusation that the government??™s interest in forced marriages was an example of racism and Islamophobia.


Chapter Seven Draws together the various findings that were explored and analysed in the body of the report and the annex, summarising the main points raised in the individual sections.

Annex 1 Reviews the national demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities within the context of minority ethnic groups in general. Providing a national context for the data examined in chapter 2, it explores the following: ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? Spatial Distribution Population Size and Growth Rate Age Structure and Sex Ratio Employment, Unemployment and Self-employment Human Capital.



We wish to acknowledge the research team??™s skill and patience in conducting this project and for their critical reflections and good humour. In the aftermath of the Bradford, Burnley and Oldham riots and September 11th 2001 it required their consummate expertise, forbearance and patience to complete the research. We wish to recognise all of those who contributed, even those whose involvement was partial. We wish to thank Yunis Alam, Nigget Rahman, Tarek Qureshi, Nilufar Ahmed, Daniel Lamarche, Yasmin Hussain and Rosita Aiesha. Also thanks for all those involved in transcribing, translating and providing secretarial support. We also wish to acknowledge the contributions made by the Advisory Committee for their insightful and thought provoking comments and feedback. In particular, we wish to thank Baroness Paula Uddin, Dr Zaki Badawi, Professor Katy Gardner and Ahea Hannan. We would like to give a special thanks to Matthew Gould and to all members of the Community Liaison Unit, Fauzia Shariff, Fawzia Samad, Rushanara Ali, Scott Furssedonn, David Burton, Heather Harvey for their support for the project through its travail. To Charles Ramsden from the Home Office for his support and comments and a special thanks to Fauzia Shariff for patiently responding to all our questions and queries and for meticulously reading the various drafts and making incisive comments and questions. We are indebted to all the interviewees for their insights and views, to the focus group participants for their participation and to both for giving their valuable time for this research project. Without their participation and involvement this project could not have been completed. All responsibilities for errors and omissions lie with the authors of the report.



Executive Summary Acknowledgements Glossary 1. 2. Introduction Bradford and Tower Hamlets: Demography and Socio-economic Context Marriage: Kinship and Arranged Marriage Forced Marriages: Causes, and Community Debates Generational Difference Community Resistance Conclusion Bibliography Annex 1: Demography and Socio-economic Context: Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in the United Kingdom 1 – 11

12 – 25 26 – 52 53 – 80 81 -97 98 -107 108 – 112

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.



Azad Affines Biraderi Bonding social capital


Cross-cousin Endogamy Essentialist Ethnic Minority

Gatekeeper Gusthi Haraam Heuristic Homogamy Human capital Izzat Jati Khandan Lascar Qaum Salariat Sharam Umma Zat/Jaat

Free Kinship relations arising through marriage Patrilineal kinship group in the Punjab The social glue that results in strong group solidarity such as dense ethnic networks which provide crucial social and psychological community support. Any grouping of individuals that brings together the actors as a composite unit such as a nation, ethnic group or womens group. Fathers cousin marrying mothers cousin or visa versa. Marrying within a clan or tribe Pertaining to an essence of anything or representing absolute truths. Is a term used to denote people of South Asian, Black Caribbean and Black African origin. It??™s a broad umbrella term used deliberately to signify reference to a wide variety of minority groups that are strictly ethnic. These categories are based on the 1991 census. Someone who controls access to information or to a particular group. Patrilineages in Bangladesh Illegal Any general concept which is framed merely as an aid to analysis but not an end in itself. The selection of a partner from a similar social background A person??™s educational and social assets Prestige, honour Occupational hierarchy Extended family Sailor Tribe or caste White-collar employment Shame Islamic community Caste, former is in Urdu/Punjabi and the latter is in Bengali




The report of the Home Office Working Group on Forced Marriages (A Choice by Right 2000), has highlighted a serious but neglected issue. Its remit was to probe the extent of forced marriages, engage with relevant service delivery agencies, affected communities and relevant non-governmental organisations, stimulate public debate to raise awareness and develop a comprehensive strategy for tackling this issue including preventative measures (Ibid, 2000: 28).

The Working Group attempted to discover the number of forced marriage cases but was unable to produce a definitive figure. This report will not cover the same ground. It takes its cue from Baroness Scotland of Asthal??™s statement that the key to this problem lies within the communities themselves and that the government must be guided by these communities (Scotland 2000). However, a better understanding of how communities perceive the issue of forced marriages is required before strategies for working with them are developed. Our study explores the insiders??™ views of the issues and we outline the main areas of concern raised by different sections within the communities.

While the issue of forced marriages is not restricted to a particular racial, ethnic


or religious group, it does seem to be more common where the practice of arranged marriage is the norm. As many social scientists have pointed out, in many respects the practice of arranged marriage is not very different from marriage practices among white people, because the latter still recruit their partners from the same nationality, ethnic and racial group, socio-economic background and religion. Those who do not conform to these norms, in some circumstances, suffer sanctions, ranging from disapproval to ostracism (The Bradford Commission Report 1996). It is in this wider social context that arranged marriage among South Asian communities needs to be considered.

Contemporary understandings of community no longer accept notions of identity as essentialist and unproblematic. Ethnic communities, as many writers have argued, are not homogeneous since their members vary according to language, religion, gender, generation, social class, sexuality and political persuasion (Ranger 1996). To understand this diversity we need to use a much more mobile and subtle understanding of community. The same applies to discussions of community identity. Identity is a process which is hybrid and varies over time, space and place; a process that is always becoming but never completed (Hall 1996, Jackson and Penrose 1993).

Pros and Cons of Different Approaches


The issue of forced marriage can be approached from a number of theoretical perspectives. Different analytical approaches produce results that emphasise a particular aspect of the issue. The concern here is that the issues are multidimensional and so we need to engage with a number of perspectives.

An ethnic perspective would locate the phenomenon within the wider context of arranged marriages, especially endogamous marriages. Forced marriages could, therefore, be seen as an extreme extension of endogamy practices and not the result of arranged marriages. The difficulty with this approach is the tendency to focus on culture or religion to the exclusion of other factors.

Generation is another approach and the study should be alert to the variations due to generation that occur within communities. It illuminates intergenerational debates and discourses that are taking place. The limitation of this approach would be that generation has to be triangulated with other factors to have explanatory properties.

The perspective of gender is central to the issue of forced marriage, in particular the role of women in the reproduction of the community. Women??™s membership of a collectivity is similar to that of men, and women are active participants in community struggles. However women are, generally, the symbols of the collectivity while men act to represent it. Ethnic boundaries are often dependant


on gender attributes organised around sexuality, marriage and the family. These socially constructed markers of ???honour, purity, the mothering of patriots, reproducers of nation, transmitters of ethnic cultures??™ make women symbols of the collectivity and their reproducers (Anthias and Yuval-Davis 1992: 113-4, Lutz, Phoenix, Yuval Davis 1995:9-10). Hence the heightened sensitivity over critical public examination of minority ethnic affairs. The gender approach sees forced marriages as symptomatic of wider issues associated with domestic violence. It is inextricably associated with control of women, especially their sexuality. Critics, however, point out that forced marriages are not only about women – they also affect men and gender variations need to be accommodated in any heuristic approach.

The fourth perspective examines the issue in terms of social class. Here we need to be aware that the relationship between social class and ethnicity is problematic and that multiple factors need to be built into the concept of social class (Smith et al 2000). If forced marriages are located within the category of domestic violence then evidence shows that domestic violence takes place across class lines. Social class is an important variable but is not a defining indicator in its own right and must be cross-referenced with other variables.

In outlining these possible approaches we confront the problem, which Floya Anthias and Nira Yuval-Davis (1993) elaborated in their influential book


Racialized Boundaries. The difficulty of following a single approach, whether it is ethnicity, patriarchy or social class, leads to a series of disconnected worlds where oppression in one category does not link up with other categories and forms of oppression. Clearly, real life experiences of individuals are far more complex and each perspective can only explain a part of the general picture. A multi-dimensional approach is needed which brings these perspectives together so that a more comprehensive analysis can be made which bears a closer resemblance to people??™s lived experiences. The approach that was adopted for the research was to examine the issue of forced marriages from a perspective that accommodates ethnicity, gender, generation and social class.

The sensitivity of the research requires that racial, ethnic and religious stereotypes do not influence the research methodology, the assumptions of the research itself and any policy implications that may emerge from the research. Closely linked to these concerns is the public examination of cultural issues that are normally kept within the private realm of ethnic communities. Any discussion about the policy implications that may emerge to address the issue of forced marriage has to consider the sensitivity of the communities whose marriage practices are being subjected to public debate. The issue of religion and religious discrimination is also involved here. The accusation of Islamophobia can be quickly raised because the research focuses on two Muslim communities: Pakistani and Bangladeshi. The two issues combine to produce concerns that


racial stereotypes are shaping the public debate about forced marriages and the policy initiatives that may emerge. It is only through an approach which problematises ethnicity and culture as contested terrains, that these concerns can be dealt with. Recognition of the internal diversity within communities provides the basis for a more refined and nuanced understanding of the complex social space occupied by community. Ideally it would have been preferable to have conducted a study investigating forced marriage practices among all minority ethnic communities where cases of forced marriages have been registered. Such a study would have covered other communities. Here, because of limited time and resources, we could only deal with two communities: the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets and the Pakistani community in Bradford. These communities were chosen because most of the forced marriage cases handled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office involve women and men from these communities. Although not all members of these communities are Muslim, all the cases the FCO handle from these communities involve Muslim women and men. Interestingly Islam was brought up by the participants in the focus groups as a key issue in the discussion of marriage. As a result of this Islam is a central feature of the report. However, the report did not set out to conduct a study of marriage in Islam per se.

The report does not deal, therefore, with forced marriages globally and we


recognise that further research may be warranted on this issue. Another limitation of the research is that we are only able to consider perceptions of the people involved in the UK and did not investigate the motives of relatives involved in the marriage abroad. Often the arrangement for the wedding is done by close relatives in the country of origin and their beliefs may have a bearing on the actions of the parents in the UK The research also excluded cases of forced marriages which did not involve an overseas marriage.

While there was general agreement over the definition of forced marriage, NGOs were frequently unclear as to who should be included in this category. Certain cases of domestic violence and forced marriages were conflated. This study exclusively focuses on British citizens, brought up in the UK and forced into marriages in their parents??™ country of origin. We have excluded non-British citizen women, who enter the UK as spouses and are then subject to domestic violence. The situation of women brought to the UK as spouses and ill-treated by in-laws is a cause for concern and worthy of further research but is not the focus of this report.


A Comparative Study This report on forced marriage is based on a comparative study of Pakistanis in


Bradford and Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets. We concentrated on these two populations and localities because (a) most forced marriage cases handled by government involved Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (b) Bradford and Tower Hamlets were the heartlands of these two communities.

The comparison was carried out with the intention of revealing the complexities of the phenomenon known as forced marriage. These complexities are shaped by the interaction between demographic forces, on the one hand, and social, cultural, economic and political forces on the other. They involve both populations, even though most reports of forced marriage have concerned Pakistanis rather than Bangladeshis. In other words, the forced marriage issue is not peculiar to one community. We want to show, therefore, the reasons why the issue involves both populations as well as the particular ways in which Pakistanis and Bangladeshis understand the forced marriage issue. In so doing we hope to avoid the inherent danger of both playing one people off against another and stereotyping them.

Data Collection Evidence was collected from a variety of sources. Statistical data was collated from various population surveys, both national and local, to establish the key demographic changes affecting both communities during the last twenty years. Other secondary material was used in order to establish the social, cultural and


economic background but the primary data was collected through the focus groups in Bradford and Tower Hamlets as well as one to one interviews with gatekeepers. These groups were chosen according to age and gender and were led by researchers who were fluent in the appropriate South Asian languages as well as in English. The sample of interviewees in each setting consists of the following:

One to one interviews with gatekeepers Group interviews

20 per site 24 per site with two sets, one for working class and another for middle class

Age 55+ 25-54 16-24

Men 2 groups 2 groups 2 groups

Women 2 groups 2 groups 2 groups

The researchers??™ skill in setting up the focus group meetings was vital to the project since they had to operate in difficult circumstances given the problems of post-Bradford Riots and after the destruction of the Word Trade Centre??™s twin towers on September 11, 2001. There was increased tension against Muslims and


this produced a reluctance to participate in a research project, which was perceived as hostile. These problems particularly hampered the research in Bradford but, in early 2002, focus group meetings were resumed in both localities and the targets achieved.

Limitations of the research The researchers were acutely aware that the study may have been perceived as intrusion into cultural practices and that perception may have impacted on the responses made in the interviews. The view that the research was part of an Islamophobic/anti -Muslim government policy was openly voiced by educated males. It is possible that this may have led to the downplaying of forced marriages in the findings. The team was acutely sensitive to the notion that boundaries between insiders and outsiders depend upon both sides perceiving differences. Insiders are, therefore, aware of outsiders??™ beliefs about their distinctiveness as a group and outsiders??™ opinions and actions play a part in the maintenance of in-group boundaries.

The methodology adopted was to avoid these insider/outsider problems and how this may influence answers given by the focus groups. The strategy adopted by the research team was to ensure that ethnic and gender matching of the researchers conducting the interviews would overcome any potential resistance there might have been to speaking openly or critically about forced marriages.


Furthermore, the topic guide used in the focus groups initiated discussion by looking at the question of marriage as a whole rather than simply asking for views on forced marriages.

The focus groups followed a standard format, contextualising the discussions on forced marriages within the wider framework of South Asian endogamous marriages and how this framework has functioned and changed in Britain. The focus groups explored the motives for people marrying and then proceeded to discuss particular forms of marriages ??“ arranged, love and forced marriage. Participants were encouraged to express their individual views and to reflec t on various scenarios, which involved situations where young men or women might find themselves under pressure to marry. They also spontaneously expressed their opinions on a number of issues, such as the interest shown by the government and the media in forced marriages. The lively responses from most of the focus groups to this format provided a vivid insight into the nuances of Pakistani and Bangladeshi responses to the forced marriage issue. The voices of community members are expressed through numerous quotations and are also located within an analytical framework to elucidate their meaning. The construction of the analysis was merely an aid to clarify the meaning of individual points of views expressed in the group interviews. Thus our analysis attempts to represent sociologically the ways in which the groups construct a hierarchy of meaning.




Introduction The demographic and socio-economic context of the Pakistanis in Bradford and Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets is explored in this chapter. Both groups share many features with other ethnic minorities and are dissimilar in other ways. The national characteristics are developed in detail and can be found in Annex 1. There is some overlap, with the national figures and the data for the local level producing some repeti tion of information. This is unavoidable as it cannot be assumed that national characteristics will be reproduced on the local level, since some localities show considerable variation from the national trend. The Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Bradford and Tower Hamlets are representative of the national trend for these two groups. Social-economic issues that are examined and illustrated in this chapter influence some of the cultural practices, which are discussed later in the report. We argue that, as well as culture, demographic and socio-economic factors are important determinants in explaining the issue of forced marriage.



History of migration The Bradford Metropolitan District is situated west of Leeds; north of the transPennine highway. To the north and east lies North Yorkshire, with its manor houses, farms and cathedral cities, while to the west and north lies the Lake District.

The city has been the centre of the wool trade since the 18th century and, until recently, wool dom inated the local economy. Even the engineering and chemical industries were associated with the wool trade by supplying the needs of the textile industry. Throughout the 19th century it was mainly a working class city structured around a low wage economy. The global networks, stretching out to the colonies, in particular, were constructed around importing wool and reprocessing it for export. These networks persisted into the mid-twentieth century.

This global movement of commodities was accompanied by the movement of labour and a wide range of people, following different religious traditions, settled in the city (Bradford Commission 1996). The Irish and Germans migrated to the city before the Second World War, followed by Poles, Ukrainians and Italians in the 1940s. During the 1950s and 1960s new arrivals came from the


New Commonwealth. There has been considerable debate as to the motivations of the recent arrivals. The literature is structured around competing theories of push and pull factors; the main push factors being the economic and political conditions in the country of origin while the pull factors were primarily a demand for cheap labour during the post-war period.












anthropologists have been quick to point to the cultural dimensions which also play a role in migration. Chain migration is influenced by the degree of community consciousness and, in the case of Mirpuris, this consciousness was deeply shaped by their biraderi system.

In Bradford a combination of push and pull factors, combining with cultural resources, facilitated the settlement of Pakistanis. It is estimated that 50 per cent of Pakistanis in Britain are from Azad Kashmir (Ballard 1991) and most of these are from one d istrict in particular ??“ Mirpur ??“ as well as the southern part of Kotli district. Azad Kashmiris are culturally and linguistically part of the Punjabi heartland but, under colonial rule, they did not benefit in the same way as the rest of the Punjab. The Punjab was the Sword Arm of the Empire and provided substantial military recruitment to the British Indian Army. Consequently, the region was developed so that discontent would not affect the army.


What is known as Azad Kashmir today was part of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. Princely states were autonomous in their internal affairs and their inhabitants were excluded from military recruitment. Mirpuris established instead a niche in the engine rooms of the British merchant navy before the Second World War. With the outbreak of hostilities many worked in the munitions factories in South Shields, establishing a bridgehead which facilitated the arrival of their fellow countrymen. New opportunities arose with the acute labour shortage after the Second World War and British firms encouraged labour migration to fill the vacancies and Mirpuris filled in these gaps. These pioneers created the foundation for the process of chain-migration which took place in the post-war era. Substantial numbers of Mirpuris called their families and clansmen to join them in the United Kingdom. The impetus to migrate was facilitated by the construction of the Mangla Dam, since the World Bank financed compensation for those whose homes were submerged by the lake which the dam created. Many used this compensation to finance their move to Britain. A third of a million settled in Britain – half the population of Mirpurs villages resulting in significant flows of remittances back to the villages of origin (Ballard 1991, Dayha 1974, Saifullah-Khan 1976)

Demography The Pakistani demographic profile (figure 2.1) shows a substantial young population and a much smaller population of elders, with more males than



Figure 2.1: Population for the Bradford District by Age and Ethnic Group 1998
Population White BlackCaribbean Indian Pakistani Bangladeshi Other All groups 0-4 23,600 400 950 10,050 750 500 36,300 5-15 4,800 1,300 2,400 16,100 1,400 1,850 27,900 16-17 9,800 200 500 3,050 250 300 14,100 18retired 225,950 3,850 8,650 33,900 2,600 3,800 278,700 Retired74 44,150 450 700 2,200 150 200 47,800 50 31,650 75+ 31,000 100 200 300 Total 389,250 6,200 13,450 65,650 5,200 6,700 486,400

Source: Bradford Council??™s Population Forecasts 1991-2001 Forty-four per cent of the Pakistani population are aged under 17, while barely 4 per cent are over 65. This population is continuously topped up by a trickle of immigration (mostly spouses), estimated between 600 and 700 per year (Simpson 1997) The ethnic minorities of Bradford are concentrated in the `inner city??™. The definition of the inner city, as pointed out by the Bradford Commission (1996), is highly ambiguous and different official bodies use different criteria, reflecting their specific responsibilities. The Police, Education, Health, Social Services and voluntary bodies work with different boundaries, influenced by different funding formulas, institutional structures and their prioritisations of certain issues and interests. Temporal and social change also influences the way the inner city is constructed:

Some official publications classify the inner city in Bradford as composed of five electoral wards and the outer city as composed of


some 15 wards, on the basis of demographic trends ??¦ Although inner city Bradford, defined in this way, is often portrayed as an area inhabited predominantly by Pakistanis, the majority of residents are White (Bradford Commission 1996). Most ethnic minority citizens are concentrated in the inner city and in five wards in particular – Heaton, Toller, University, Little Horton and Bradford Moor which have 20 per cent or more of their population belonging to ethnic minority groups. The highest concentrations of Pakistanis are found in Toller, University, Little Horton and Heaton, and they dominate the inner city outnumbering all the other ethnic minorities. Bradford Moor and Toller wards have over fifty per cent of their population from the Pakistani community, while University ward contains over seventy per cent (OPCS 1993).

Social Stress According to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Index of Local Deprivation Bradford is ranked 64th out of 354 districts in the country and Little Horton ward was the 42nd most deprived in the country (DETR 2000, 2000a). The Bradford Metropolitan Council survey reveals that out of the 11 wards in the district showing high measures of multiple stress three of them, Manningham, Girlington and West Bowling wards, contained high proportions of Pakistanis (BDEIS 1995: 50).

Employment and Unemployment


The transformation of the economy, particularly due to de-industrialisation, has been a major cause for concern. Between 1961 and 1991 the labour market rapidly contracted resulting in the loss of 31,600 jobs. In 1961 just under 60 per cent of employment, representing 127,400 jobs, was in manufacturing, while 35.5 per cent or 75,700 jobs were in the service sector. In 1991 this position was reversed with the service sector employing just under 68 per cent or 122,500 jobs and manufacturing employ ing around 27 per cent or 49,700 jobs. Mechanical engineering and textiles continued to downsize but there has been growth in the electronic, chemical and printing sectors (BDEIS 1995: 19).

The 1991 Census showed unemployment among Pakistani males at over 35 per cent and fractionally higher among Pakistani women. Only Bangladeshi males came close to these rates of unemployment. Pakistani male unemployment was nearly three times higher than White male unemployment and nearly six times higher than White female unemployment (OPCS 1993). The Bradford

Commission noted that 700 or 1,000 new jobs per year were needed to maintain current levels of employment, and many more if unemployment was to disappear (1996). The situation in 1998 improved with unemployment among Pakistanis falling to 21 per cent but this was still considerably higher than the White unemployment rate of just over 5 per cent (BDPIS). What is particularly worrying is that youth unemployment is just as high and also has a strong ethnic bias. Unemployment among Pakistani young men is more than twice as high as


it is for young Whites. In 1999 youth unemployment in University ward was estimated to be as high as 20 per cent (BDPIS a).

Education The OFSTED report on Bradford (2000) is critical of the LEA for serving the district so poorly. It blames poor leadership, political and professional, as the primary cause. At Key Stage 2 44 out of the 59 middle schools were below benchmark standards. At Key stage 3 the difference from the national average narrows, but the percentage of students attaining five or more subjects A*-C is 32.3 per cent compared to the nationals standard of 46.3 per cent. Underperformance among Pakistani boys, whose pass rate (at the level of 5 GCSEs at grades A-C) is 17 per cent is even more worrying.

Tower Hamlets

Economic and Cultural Background Bradford and Tower Hamlets have a lot in common socially and economically. Tower Hamlets also has a long history of immigration shaped by periodic waves of overseas settlers ??“ French Protestants during the late 17th century, Irish Catholics in the 18 th and 19th centuries, Polish and Russian Jews in the late 19th century, and more recently Maltese, Cypriot, Somali and Bangladeshi arrivals. These newcomers usually found work in the small industries and retail outlets


north of the docks. Bangladeshis were the latest immigrants to revive the garment industry and to create an ethnic enclave of small shops, cafes, restaurants, taxi companies and travel agencies.

During the 1980s and 1990s, however, the garment industry??™s fortunes declined while a second and third generation of Bangladeshis has emerged eager to find work outside the ethnic niche created by their elders. New opportunities have been created by the dramatic redevelopment of `Docklands??™ to the south of the borough, but the companies attracted to this alternative to the City of London have brought their own workforces or require skills which young Bangladeshis lack. High rates of youth unemployment coexist with an expanding informal economy, where drugs play a prominent role.

Culturally, since the vast majority are Muslims, an important feature of the last twenty years has been the growing power of Muslim institutions and Islamic organisations based in Bangladesh and the Middle East. The arrival of wives and dependants during the 1980s and 1990s has resulted in a greater emphasis on the norms and values of Muslim family life. Another key issue has been language. The Sylheti first generation has clung to local dialects, while the pres sures of Bangladeshi nationalism have encouraged the teaching of standard Bengali in state and community schools.


History of Migration Although concentrations of Bangladeshi residents can be found in other London boroughs, as well as Oldham, Luton and the East Midlands, the 1991 Census revealed that almost a quarter of Britain??™s Bangladeshi population was to be found in Tower Hamlets. This borough??™s Bangladeshi population comes predominantly from the north-eastern district of Sylhet. Sylheti sailors (ascars) l have been associated with Tower Hamlets since at least the early 19th century but the settlement of large numbers of Sylhetis did not begin until the 1960s and 1970s.

Socially, the key features of this migration are (a) the familiar process of chain migration from clusters of villages supported by (b) strong family and kinship ties. These have ensured the maintenance of powerful economic ties through the flow of remittances from Britain to Bangladesh. However, increasing investment in Britain, through education, housing and consumer goods, may be diminishing this flow of remittances.

Age and Sex Ratios Tower Hamlets??™ Bangladeshi population is a very young one. In terms of the balance between the sexes the ONS 2001 figures indicate that, nationally, there is almost parity (102:100) between the ages of 15 and 29 but there are many more men than women in the 30 to 44 age range (150:100). However, the national


picture is reversed at the Tower Hamlets level. According to the London Research Centre the ratio between men and women in the 26 to 35 age range is 100 to 146 (Eversley 2001:18). As Eversley notes, the key issue among the largest concentration of Bangladeshis in Britain, therefore, may be the belief that there is ???a shortage of eligible, suitable men??™ (Ibid.). Approximately two-thirds of women marry between 20 and 24, while probably less than 10 per cent of both genders marry before 20.

Social Stress: national and local data According to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Index of Local Deprivation Tower Hamlets is ranked as the most deprived district out of 354 districts in the country and Spitalfields, Lansbury and Weavers wards are the 46 th, 47th and 49th most deprived in the country (DETR 2000, 2000a).

Bangladeshi men initially found work in the local garment industry, hotels and hospitals. An ethnic economic enclave has been developed through the expansion of small shops, restaurants, cafes and taxi services. The second generation has also moved into local government, welfare and social service provision and professional occupations. Women have been far less economically active, although statistics may not reveal those involved in home-working for the garment industry.


At the same time Bangladeshis suffer high rates of unemployment. In 1991 22.7 per cent of British Bangladeshi males 16 years and older were unemployed compared with the national average of 12.6 per cent. Although there are no recent figures for the rate of Bangladeshi unemployment in Tower Hamlets, we know that unemployment in this borough is very high (13.6 per cent of the total population was unemployed in 1998 compared with the national average of 4.6 per cent) and that the Bangladeshi unemployment rate is likely to be even higher. For example, the Spitalfields ward, which contained the highest proportion of Bangladeshi residents nationally in 1991, also had the worst unemployment record ??“ 24.3 per cent for men and 20.3 per cent for women compared with borough averages of 17.4 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively (Tower Hamlets 1999). In another ward where 51 per cent of the residents on the large Ocean Estate opposite Queen Mary College (London University) were Bangladeshi, 90 per cent of those between 17 and 18 were `Asian??™, while only 66 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women were `economically active??™ (Carey 2000: 13).

Education Tower Hamlets has also a poor record of educational achievement, although the arrival of White professionals employed in the Docklands wards may be changing this. By 1998 54.2 per cent of the borough??™s school population were Bangladeshi and only 28.3 per cent were White (ethnicity recorded as England,


Scotland or Wales [ESW]).

Even so during the 1990s the third generation of Bangladeshis have been more successful than their White counterparts and Bangladeshi female students have fared better than their Bangladeshi male peers. In 1998 36.6 per cent of Bangladeshi females passed five of more GCSEs at A* to C, compared with 29.7 per cent of Bangladeshi males, 24.9 per cent of ESW girls and 17.6 per cent ESW boys (Ibid). These rates of success are encouraging Bangladeshis from the third generation to attend one of several universities nearby (especially London Guildhall University, Queen Mary College and the University of East London) and to look for jobs outside the ethnic economic enclave. At the same time, as we have already noted, educational achievement is not necessarily being turned into local jobs: ambitious Bangladeshis will have to look further afield – across the global city and even further. One indication of this more outward vision is the movement of Bangladeshi homeowners out of Tower Hamlets as they take advantage of the substantial increase in equity and buy more desirable accommodation in London??™s eastern suburbs.


Unemployment, multiple social stress and educational underperformance characterise both communities. In terms of age structure both communities are


young with Bangladeshis having an even younger population than the Pakistanis. Both are primarily working class communities of rural origin, unemployment is high among both communities for both men and women and the figures for youth unemployment are worryingly high. Both urban areas are deprived localities containing some of the poorest wards in the country. Human capital is low but increasing among the younger generation, mainly among girls. This also has an important effect on their success in the labour market. However, the London effect appears to benefit Bangladeshis and the Tower Hamlets LEA has shown better leadership resulting in improved educational results.

In summary, both communities are primarily from a rural background, are working class and youthful. Both middle class professionals and the elderly are relatively few in number. The focus groups schema assumes equality across age, gender and social class but the national and local picture is demonstrated to be skewed towards the young and working class.




Introduction Marriage among the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities will be examined within the context of kinship and the attendant issues of caste, religion and honour. These features provide important input into the arrangement of marriages among these groups and have explanatory capacity for the decisionmaking process that leads to endogamous marriages. Arranged marriages only become understandable when endogamy is analysed. This chapter will explore the range of factors that are influential in endogamous marriages and then consider variations of arranged marriages.

Marriage The national trend for marriage is complex. On a superficial level marriages are at their lowest level since 1917 and the divorce rate is the highest in the European Union. However, the picture is more complex than simple marriage ???decline??™ as it is accompanied by sequential cohabitations, separation, divorce and remarriage (Barlow, Duncan, et al 2001). Minority ethnic groups mirror some of these characteristics. Rates of marriage vary across communities with AfricanCaribbean people more likely to remain single and cohabit than Whites or South


Asians. The rates of marriage among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were comparatively high – 73 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. Marriage is extremely popular among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

Figure 3.1 Marriage Rates by Communities Column percentages
White Single Married Living as married Separated /divorced Widowed 23 60 9 7 1 Caribbean 41 39 10 9 2 Indian 21 72 3 3 2 African Asian 21 72 2 3 1 Pakistani 19 74 3 3 2 Bangladeshi 22 73 1 1 3 Chinese 34 62 1 3 –

Source: Modood and Berthoud 1997: 24

Islam In the focus groups Pakistani and Bangladeshi respondents explained their high rates of marriage and low levels of co-habitation in terms of religion. Marriage is related to duty and Islam, sex is for procreation and sex before marriage is considered to be sinful:

Most Bangladeshis are Muslims so it is part of our religion. (Bangladeshi Young Men, Middle Class). The reason why we get married is so that sexual intercourse is made legal ??¦ to prevent people to make illicit friendship and have sexual intercourse which is against our religion and is completely wrong.


Wrong for our community and is against our religion. (Bangladeshi Elder Men, Working Class) Parents consider it a moral obligation to marry their children and intimate relationships should only develop within this context. Responses were fairly consistent across ethnicity and generation.

In Islam it is a parent??™s duty to marry their children – this is considered to be moral act and a blessing. (Bangladeshi Elder Women, Working Class). [All] parents like their children to get married and God too want this to happen in pleasant way. If there is an intimate relationship between a girl and a boy without marriage, this is haraam in Islam. We call it haraam meaning illegitimate. The answer to this question is that parents do get their children married in a good way, so there shouldn??™t be any matrimonial issues of respect or disrespect. (Pakistani Elder Women, Working Class)

In the focus groups both Pakistanis and Bangladeshis consistently expressed this view across gender and all the generations. Young men and women r eaffirmed this view but it was seen as a normative position to which women are expected to conform more rigorously than men. It??™s just wrong to be seen with anybody else but your husband. It??™s just for support, basically. One person to be there for another, a mother. Plus, our Prophet did it ??¦ We follow our Prophet??™s way. (Bangladeshi Young Women, Middle Class) Group Boundaries and Marriage


The governing principle of marital choice in any community is homogamy – the selection of a partner from a similar social background shaped, for example, by race, class, ethnicity, religion, age and education. Those who do not conform to these norms, in some circumstances, suffer sanctions, ranging from disapproval to ostracism (Bradford Commission Report 1996). Marriages that do not conform to this pattern are uncommon and in the population as a whole transracial/inter-ethnic marriages form a very small proportion, about 1 per cent, of all partnerships in the population. However, among ethnic minority groups 20 per cent of African-Caribbeans were married or living as married with a White partner, 17 per cent of Chinese, 4 per cent of Indians and just 1 per cent of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (Modood and Berthoud 1997: 29-30). Thus Pakistanis and Bangladeshis conform to the national pattern of marrying within their social group.

Marriage is an important indicator of cultural distinctiveness and is a principal means by which boundaries are drawn to include or exclude those who are eligible for marriage. Group members typically try to maintain social cohesion through sustaining a boundary between themselves and others. This boundary between insiders and outsiders depends upon both sides perceiving difference. Insiders are, therefore, aware of outsiders??™ beliefs about their distinctiveness as a group and outsiders??™ opinions and actions play a part in the maintenance of group boundaries. So marrying outside the community threatens social cohesion


and breaks down the boundaries, and this is why you get few trans-racial/interethnic marriages in general and specifically among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

Issues of identity and of belonging to a particular community and/or territory loom large in this process of boundary maintenance. These issues are usually linked to debates about cultural traditions embedded in distinct languages, religions and regions, for example. Insiders may keenly resent outsiders interest in marriage strategies, even if it is justified in the name of wider public interest. The 1991 British Social Attitude Survey reported that 75 per cent of White respondents believed that White people would mind if a close relative was to marry a Black or Asian person. Among minority ethnic groups the highest disapproval was found among Pakistanis with 64 per cent minding strongly, 52 per cent of Indians disapproved followed by Bangladeshis (35 per cent), with African-Caribbeans having the lowest disapproval rate. The Pakistani

disapproval rate coincides with the fact that only 1 per cent of Pakistanis are in trans-racial or inter-ethnic marriages.

The anomaly here is that while Bangladeshis have a much lower disapproval rate than Pakistanis, the percentage of trans-ethnic marriages is equally low in both communities. There is no clear explanation for this incongruity but it may be due to the asymmetries in sex ratios explored in Chapter 2 (for more detail see annex 1). Generally speaking, the PSI Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities


suggested that on the whole people without qualifications and in manual occupations minded ???mixed??™ marriages more than middle class professional groups (Modood and Berthoud 1997: 315). The data examined in the previous chapter clearly shows that both groups are predominantly working class, with low human capital and, therefore, more likely to be against mixed marriages.

Despite the appearance of group solidarity the boundaries may be highly contested by some insiders. Global migration has created a complex situation where debates about local and national boundaries may be shaped by transnational allegiances (to a global Islamic community or umma, for example), by visions of multiple homes and increasing individual choice, as well as by perceptions of living in a risky world undergoing rapid social and cultural change. Social mobility can weaken boundaries and conversely deprivation and exclusion, explored in chapter 2 (see annex 1 for more details on this), can lead to the reinforcement of group solidarity.

Kinship and Marriage Group boundary maintenance is sustained by family involvement in marriages. Individuals rarely make marital decisions without the involvement of families. Both the state and religious authorities regulate these decisions and they confer rights and obligations on partners and their relatives. The family, therefore, plays an important link between the private and public sphere.


What differentiated South Asians from most other minority ethnic groups and the wider public is the practice of arranging marriages within lineage groups. Among Bangladeshis and Pakistanis extended families play an important role in the decision-making process. Both communities, however, are not homogenous entities and contain numerous sub-groups and marriage arrangements are usually between these sub -groups. The family plays the crucial role in the process of arranging a marriage and it is usually the mother and siblings who are involved in the process of selection. There are various criteria that are applied to produce a suitable match. These criteria vary depending on whether the marriage pattern of the collectivity is endogamous or exogamous in nature. Among Pakistani and Bangladeshi rural migrants to Britain, in particular, marriages between individuals take place within the wider context of extended family ties and marriage alliances over a long period of time.

As many anthropologists have pointed out, South Asian marriages cannot be understood separately from dowry involving the flow of goods and/or money from the brides family to the grooms, or dower, which is the reverse. Both practices can be found among Sylhetis while dowry was practised among Mirpuris and dower among Pakhtuns. Katy Gardner noted the increasing expense of marrying off daughters in the Sylhet village of Talukpur and argues that:


this is less to do with the changing value of womens labour, or their increasing subordination, and more to do with competition between affines, the use of marriage in upward mobility, and the need for women, and the goods they carry with them to be “markers” of the reputation and social position of their natal households (1995: 178).

This raises important questions about how marriage alliances have changed with migration to Britain. Both Werbner and Shaw argue that social class is becoming a determining factor but alliances are still justified in terms of zat and kinship (Werbner 1990: 120 , Shaw 1988: 107)

While the 1991 Census refers to the category `Pakistanis??™ the population is highly differentiated on linguistic, ethnic and clan lines. When it comes to marriage partners, endogamy means not simply marrying within the Pakistani community but within a specific kin group. Strong regional ties differentiated Pakhtuns from Punjabis and from the majority of British Pakistanis, who come from northern Pakistan, especially from the Azad (Free) Kashmir district of Mirpur. These regional differences map on to the towns and cities of this country since :

Mirpuris predominate in the Pakistani populations of Bradford and Birmingham, for example, while Faisalabadis [from the Punjab] reportedly predominate in Manchester and Glasgow. (Shaw 2001: 317).


These regional differences are compounded by social divisions based on family (khandan), kinship ties (biraderi), caste or caste-like groups (zat) and tribe or caste (qaum). These territorial and social forces provide the background for a process which lies at the heart of our study ??“ the contrast between an increasing disposition to marry cross-cousins among some Pakistani groups from the Punjab, on the one hand, and ???a European, North American, and Japanese decline in consanguineous and especially first-cousin marriage??™, on the other (Shaw 2001: 332). This process is ???not simply a question of following a cultural preference for close kin marriage??™, because for many parents, ???it makes good sense to meet the obligations to consider your sibling??™s children as spouses for your own children??™ (Ibid). It provides status within the biraderi, demonstrates migrants??™ commitment to their relatives in Pakistan, and can bring social and economic benefits.

Shaw argues that these benefits encourage some Faisalabadi entrepreneurs and Punjabi factory workers in her Oxford sample to sustain cross-cousin marriages. Those who are more likely to reject this strategy are upwardly mobile, as well as those who have been brought up in this country, ???particularly those with higher education and economic independence??™ (Ibid). Increasing education amongst the younger generation of Pakistanis links to a decline of first cousin marriage amongst this group. Chapter 2 (and annex 1) shows gender differentials with girls becoming more educated than boys resulting in differentials in expectations


from marriage. Conversely, low literacy rates amongst parents are associated with high levels of consanguineal marriages ??“ hence the reluctance of educated women to contract trans-continental marriages. Focus group evidence supports the claim that educational differentials across generations are resulting in differing expectations over marriage.

Family and marriage dynamics among British Bangladeshis have not been analysed by researchers in any depth so far. We do not know how much the process of migration and living in this country has altered marriage customs. However, since the vast majority of British Bangladeshis hail from one particular district ??“ Sylhet ??” we can draw on the work of Katy Gardner, especially her ethnographic study of Talukpur, a Sylheti village community, in Global Migrants: Local Lives (1995). She notes that kinship is ???one of the principal factors of social, political and economic organization??™ in Talukpur as elsewhere in rural Bangladesh (1995: 28-29). Kinship is patrilineal so that ???ancestry is traced back through the male line??™, creating patrilineages ( usthi). In Talukpur the gusthi g usually included ???siblings and cousins of o ne??™s father and paternal grandfather, and their spouses and offspring??™ (Gardner 1995: 29). Traditionally most marriages ???were arranged with local descent groups, and often with maternal and paternal cousins??™ but there was now a trend towards marrying people ???outside the local area??™ (Ibid: 171). The exchange of brides still continues but ???the new marriages help form important new economic and political alliances, often


expressing (and adding to) increased economic and social mobility within the area??™ (Ibid). The implication of her data for migrants to Britain is that marriage here can be stretched even wider so that alliances can be established between migrant families within Britain for social, economic and (perhaps) political reasons, as well as between British migrants and a wider network of families across Sylhet.

Although we do not have detailed information about British Bangladeshi marriage patterns, there is some anecdotal evidence that British

Bangladeshis/Sylhetis are seeking marriage partners from both their country of origin and within Britain, as we shall see later in the report when we consider the Tower Hamlets focus groups. What the balance is between these two options we cannot say as yet. If the picture described by Shaw in Oxford is anything to go by, socio-economic factors as well as cultural forces are swaying the balance. Family elders will be taking into consideration the educational background of marriage partners in Britain and Bangladesh, their ability to contribute to family income within this country, and their facility in English, as well as such other factors as the desire of their British-born children to find a partner brought up in this country.



Endogamous marriages are the norm for these two communities. The focus group contributors, however, are unclear about the precise meaning of zat (caste) – patrilineal groupings associated with occupational hierarchy (jati). Certain forms of labour are traditionally considered to be spiritually unclean and associated with low caste status. Family names are usually a good indicator of a person??™s caste. Both Pakistanis and Bangladeshi elders conflate customary practices with Islam but there are also differences between the two communities. Many Pakistanis replace references to zat with extended family or village loyalties, while middle-aged working class Pakistanis do not think zat is so relevant in Britain, are more critical of it, but accept that it persists. Q: So how important is caste How important is village location A: Very important ??¦ A: I think your caste is a lot more important to our parents, you know if you??™re a Jackson, marry a Jackson, I mean you can??™t marry??¦ A: Well how important is it to us A: I don??™t think ??¦ A: You know what it is; the caste system in this country for us now is non-existent Q: ??¦.our parents still refer to it. A: ??¦..a good caste, they??™d never let you marry someone (from it). A: If you??™re a Blacksmith or a Shoesmith, you??™d never let your daughter marry a Shoesmith; you??™d rather let your daughter marry a Blacksmith. A: But the strangest thing in terms of this cultural thing about being a Blacksmith, Shoesmith or an Ironmonger or whatever, is that they weren??™t actually doing them trades. It was (…) going back ten generations past his great, great, great grandfather might have been a Blacksmith. (Pakistani Middle Aged Men, Working Class)