Forced marriages in Finland
In the wider world, more marriages of convenience or arranged marriages take place than so-called marriages for love.
Arranged marriages are more often the rule than the exception in most Asian and African countries. In India, China, and even in the highly-industrialised G8 nation of Japan, marriages of convenience are commonplace.
It is only in the white, Christian countries of the Western world that people believe in unions based on love. Or do they any longer?
Amongst busy singles in the West, there is an increasing use of match-makers, whose function is to bring suitable pairs of individuals together, either through the Net or by arranged meetings.
The difference is that in the West, the match-makers are usually a business enterprise, whereas in other cultures the bringing together of potential couples generally happens in accordance with the interests of the immediate and expanded families concerned.
Arranged marriages and even forced marriages are known to take place in Finland, too.
In arranged marriages the parties have a theoretical chance of refusing the prospective partner. In forced marriages it can for instance be a case of marrying off a girl who has lost her virginity or who has forfeited her honour in some way.
Reet Nurmi, executive director of Monika-Naiset, the Multicultural Women's Resource Center, which provides help for immigrant and minority women all over Finland, says that she gets a couple of calls each month from panic-stricken immigrant girls.
Often the matter comes to light at school: the girls for instance tell their guidance counsellor at school that their parents are arranging a husband for them.
"Even now, girls in Finland are hiding out from their parents after the threat of marriage has been raised", says Nurmi.
In Finnish schools, there are examples of cases where girls disappear from their class for a while and return with a ring on their finger. Sometimes the girl vanishes without trace.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print in the Nytweekly supplement, 21.10.2005
More on this subject:
And this is your future husband...