[Statement issued on 5th March 2000]
HINDU CULTURE CONSIDERS THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY TO BE OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE IN THE PRESERVATION OF SOCIETY, AND DISCOURAGES MARRIAGES BASED ON IMPULSIVE DECISIONS AND ON PHYSICAL ATTRACTION ALONE. OUR DESIRE FOR COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN THE TWO FUTURE PARTNERS IS BASED ON THE NEED FOR STABILITY AND PERMANENCE OF THE MARRIAGE. IN `ARRANGING’ THE MARRIAGE, THE POTENTIAL BRIDE, BRIDEGROOM AND THEIR FAMILIES ALL HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE, WITH NO PLACE FOR COERCION. INDEED MARRIAGES MUST BE ARRANGED WITH THE FREE CONSENT OF THOSE TO BE MARRIED, WITH THE LATTER TAKING AN ACTIVE PART IN CHOOSING THEIR PARTNER. SUCH MARRIAGES MUST NOT BE CONFUSED WITH `FORCED MARRIAGES’.
[This Statement was sent to the British Government on behalf of the British Hindu community. Baroness Patricia Scotland QC from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office sent the following reply:
“Thank you for issuing your statement on 5 March following my speech on forced marriages. It is an excellent statement. I agree with everything in it. You hold up the importance of the institution of marriage and family. You underline the validity of arranged marriages. And you make a clear statement against marriages based on coercion.
I am delighted that the Hindu community is taking such a strong stand on this issue. As I said in my speech, the lead must be taken by the communities themselves. The government must work with the communities, and be guided by them. Only that way can we ensure that the misery caused by forced marriages is brought to an end. For this reason, I am delighted with the statement you have issued.
As I also said in my speech, the FCO is keen to have a standing dialogue with the minority communities in the UK. I am determined that the Hindu communities should be among them. Our officials will be in touch with you, not least to seek your advice about how we can best do this. In the meantime, thank you once again for writing.” ]