Thankfully in Singapore, children go to school, get swamped with homework and assessment books, are pushed to excel, and sometimes crack up … but they don’t get married.
There are limits to our madness.
I am not against arranged marriage. If both parties are willing, it’s really a convenient way to narrow your mate search, and possibly save your tears, money and time dining with sociopaths, two–or more-timers, or people you have nothing in common with. Dating strangers can be so stressful and when you think you’ve hit it off, they turn lukewarm on you. Or say they’ve been posted to another country.
One of my closest friends was betrothed to the son of her parents’ friends when she was of illegal age. They married after she got her O levels (back then known as the Senior Cambridge School Cert). She was 17 and he had just graduated from law school.
Her friends thought, “How sad to be a stay-at-home wife at 17, never having a career or choices”. A few years ago, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, still in love and then he died of an aneurysm. Now, that was truly sad.
If we had known then what we know now, we would have recognized that she was the lucky one to have found her soul mate so early in life while so many flounder in a swamp of heartbreak and loneliness. If only, he had lived to enjoy their senior years together.
But of course, there’s no guarantee that an arranged marriage will work any better than an unarranged one, or that your uncle’s friend’s nephew will not be as much of a weirdo as your online date. Maybe it’s easier when someone else does the background check on expectations, family skeletons and fiscal worthiness. And when you accept that you must work at the relationship because this is it. I imagine many will prefer the freedom of finding The One on their own. Who’s to say which is better…
However, forcing a child to marry an adult is cruel and wrong! Detractors come up with all kinds of reasons to rationalize marrying off girls who should be nurturing their minds and not babies. There is no reasoning with them as I notice in the responses to this National Geographic clip sent to me by my friend, Sarah. What do you think?
“Every year, throughout the world, millions of young girls are forced into marriage. Child marriage is outlawed in many countries and international agreements forbid the practice yet this tradition still spans continents, language, religion and caste.
Over an eight-year period, photographer Stephanie Sinclair has investigated the phenomenon of child marriage in India, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia. Her multimedia presentation, produced in association with National Geographic, synthesizes this body of work into a call to action.”