During one of discussions one of my friend called arranged marriage a 'legalized rape', his statement didn't surprise me as I heard it on some occasions before also, I did not agree with this statement completely because I know many successful and happy arranged marriages (including my own) and many couples who love each other like any other couple married or living together either according to any socially accepted system or even otherwise. System of arranged marriage is not perfect, it has many serious drawbacks but even after all this according to me it's exaggerated statement to call all arranged marriages as legalized rapes but this statement is not totally wrong, this statement is not 100% right but it's not also 100% wrong, it can make sense to person only if he/she tries to understand logic behind this argument. Some people might find this topic itself disgusting or offensive or against their tradition or culture, so for them my advice is it's not anything like that but still if they at all feel offended by this subject then please don't proceed and go and read some other post there are many other posts on this blog itself.
Arranged marriage is a system designed to find a companion or mate for both genders in society, this was designed during times when in society for variety of reasons free interaction between young boys and girls was socially not allowed. In many societies this was the only way to get marry. There was very heavy dominance of parents in this system as they used to decide everything, starting from selecting the bride or groom to date and time of marriage, the real bride and groom slowly became just instruments or technical requirement to run this show. All decision and execution power used to rest in hands of parents and slowly they twisted or redesigned this system to the extent that it also resulted in system of child marriage. In many cases elders don't even feel need to obtain consent of boy and girl who are getting marry, there can be many reasons for this specially the young age of prospective bride and groom (elders feel that they are too immature to take their own decisions). Once couple gets married next step is consummation of marriage. According to Wikipedia, consummation or consummation of a marriage, in many traditions and statutes of civil or religious law, is the first (or first officially credited) act of sexual intercourse between two people, either following their marriage to each other or after a prolonged sexual attraction. In any sexual act if there is no consent involved or if force is used against will of any individual involved in it, it can be considered as a rape or sexual assault and this I think happens during consummation of many arranged marriages (one of the reason is bride and groom don't know each other very well) and I think this is what my learned friend meant when he made this comment.
I agree that no system is perfect, there are some pros and cons associated with every system, people often cite high divorce rates in developed societies to prove uselessness of so called love marriages, but whenever we see some obvious problems in any system and see some better alternatives or solutions we should think of implementing those solutions rather than trying to protect that old outdated system in name of tradition or culture. No doubt that good traditions and rituals should be preserved and continued but not all traditions are worth preserving, some need major reforms and as a society we should be willing to accept these things. Obtaining consent of prospective bride and groom before marriage is not wrong, rather it's beneficial for both of them and can avoid many problems after marriage, if they are not ready then allowing them to take their own time to take a decision is also a good idea, why not to follow these simple things during process of arranged marriage, definitely parents can help whenever needed, offer suggestions whenever asked but they should leave it to individuals (bride and groom) to make decisions about their own lives, after all they are the ones who are getting married. I think everyone should learn to respect others choice, respect our partner's right to say 'no' in any relationship, this will reduce many complications and would reduce incidences of sexual abuse, if this happens may be very soon a day will come where we don't have to argue against such statements or will see fewer cases of sexual abuse in our society.
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.
[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]