Huma Munshi responds to George Galloway’s contemptible denial of Naz Shah’s forced marriage.
I cannot believe that Galloway is so ignorant as to allege that because Shah’s mother was present, the marriage was not forced. Galloway was an MP in Bethnal Green and Bow and now represents Bradford West, which both have large Asian communities. While forced marriage is not exclusive to south Asian cultures, he has, no doubt learned about the practice from his constituents.
Well maybe he listens only to his male constituents. I can’t see how he could make such a claim otherwise.
My family were present at my Muslim wedding ceremony in India 10 years ago, along with 500 other guests at a huge reception. I wore the ornate clothes and jewels of an Indian bride, my hands were patterned with henna; but this outward appearance did not – and does not – change the fact that this was a forced marriage in every sense. I had repeatedly told my parents that I did not want to go through with the ceremony, but to no avail. Like Shah I was emotionally blackmailed. My mother threatened suicide if I did not comply because of the dishonour it would bring on our family.
Munshi left the marriage. She was diagnosed with PTSD.
The ramifications of Galloway’s rhetoric are extremely worrying. By using Shah’s experience in this way, he puts future victims at risk. Using his platform and position as an MP he denies Shah the right to speak about her experiences by calling them into question. Shah says she was forced and emotionally blackmailed into her marriage – we should believe her. I worry about the impact Galloway’s comments will have on other survivors when they seek support. They already face the barrier of having to overcome the “honour code” which is drilled into them from childhood. The most important thing is to believe us victims of forced marriage when we say our parents were the perpetrators. Start with the premise of believing the victim – this in itself would be a revolutionary act.
As a British Asian Muslim woman it worries me hugely that someone like Galloway, in a position of power, can make these comments.
It’s so familiar, isn’t it. There are women making the claims and there are men in positions of power denying them, minimizing them, belittling them, ridiculing them.
It’s not a good look. It’s never a good look. You would think the men in positions of power would start to figure that out at some point.