A British teenager has been rescued from a forced marriage to her Bangladeshi cousin due to intervention by a British diplomat. The 19 year old girl was traveling with her mother in Bangladesh in order to be forced to marry a cousin. Hours before the wedding was to take place, the girl telephoned the British consular office in Syihet and an embassy official shortly arrived with local police to halt the marriage. The girl was handed back to her mother on condition she would not be forced into any marriage. The British High Commission in Dhaka says it has assisted in preventing 56 such forced marriage in the past year.
The issue of forced marriages remains an interesting contrast in views regarding the meaning of family and the power of parents to make decisions regarding their children. Historically, parents arranged marriages but in the past century this cultural tradition has died out in most industrial and post industrial societies. The rights of women have become important and this incident is simply one more example of the clash of cultures that remains alive in many parts of the world.