British Asian Muslim Women, Multiple Spatialities and by Fazila Bhimji (auth.)

By Fazila Bhimji (auth.)

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The two divorced women were also homemakers. One of them was considering postgraduate work. Their ages ranged between 19 and 28. In order to acquire varying perspectives, in addition to the MYF, I also decided to attend a study circle that met regularly in a mosque located in the suburbs of North Manchester where the population predominantly consisted of British South Asians. Unlike the regenerated city centre with refurbished apartment buildings, where the MYF was situated, this area was largely suburban, working class, with an ethnically diverse population.

The number of young British Asians being forced into arranged marriages could be as high as 3,000 a year – ten times official estimates’ (Daily Mail, 12 March 2008). ‘Thousands of young predominantly Muslim women are thought to be subjected to forced marriages each year, although the scale of the problem is unknown’ (Daily Mail, 8 June 2006). There is virtually no discussion of how these ‘thousands’ of women may actually overcome, negotiate and find alternative solutions within their own family networks.

Furthermore, there is virtually no exploration of the economic segregation and disenfranchisement of Pakistanis in Britain. Consequently, British Asian Muslim young women are homogenized and even infantilized, as in some instances they are even characterized as ‘kids’ by the Mirror newspaper. The use of words such as ‘kids’ and ‘children’ offers further justification for state action. Discourses of ‘saving’ British Muslim women became even more pronounced in the context of a 13-year-old Scottish school girl’s case, that of Molly/Misbah who left her Scottish mother and went to Pakistan to live with her relatives from her father’s side.

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