The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages
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The Girl from the Coast

The Girl from the Coast | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it

"Pramoedya's The Girl from the Coast tells the story of a beautiful young woman from a fishing village who finds herself in an arranged mar...

Ayelen's insight:

The book The Girl from the Coast was written by Pramoedya Ananta Toer.  In this book there is a young girl of the age of 14 who is the main character.  The book opens with a description of the girl while she is riding in a carriage from the fishing village that she grew up in to a large city she has never seen before.  She is taken away from her village to become the wife of a noblemen she has never met.  She learns soon after her parents have dropped her off that her life will never be the same.  She learns that nobility live in fear and solitude; the nobility have a very fragile relationship with everyone that surrounds them and could easily be broken from day to day.  Her life is miserable once she arrives not understanding how anything in her life was supposed to work out anymore until her servant aides her in learning the ways inside the household.  She is taught to make batik which is an art in which you sew and add designs and colors to cloth, she learns how to remain silent, she learns how to rule over others, and she learns that she is to do what her husband wants.  She most also learn religion as her husband, the Bendoro, is a sort of priest that also deals with government affairs.  She has to learn to cope with her new life until years pass and the "Girl from the Coast" finally returns home where tragedy strikes and changes her views on the new life she was leading. Upon returning home she discovers she is pregnant but bore a daughter.  Upsetting the Bendoro she is forced out of the home and to leave her daughter behind.

The main theme in this story is based on human rights.  The "Girl from the Coast" is forced away from her village to become the wife of the Bendoro.  They do not have a formal wedding but he is her husband.  However, she soon learns that the Bendoro has had several wives before her who each have bore one child and then mysteriously are sent home.  She also learns the cruel fate that she is the Bendoro's servant and most do what he wishes her to do when he says it.  She also learns that she is what is known as a "practice wife" among nobility.  A "practice wife" is a commoner that a nobleman desires to be his "wife" and they are not formerly married but are to be considered as husband and "wife".  A real wife is a woman who is of equal stature as he is and that is whom he will live out his life with.  Once she lives out her life she eventually becomes pregnant.  Of course back in those days men wanted their wives to bear sons and not daughters.  However, the "Girl from the Coast" has a baby girl.  The Bendoro became very upset with this and called her father from the village to come and fetch his daughter because her divorced her just by saying they are divorced.  She is then forced to leave her child behind to be taken care of by the servants.

This book was extremely interesting.  It is a book set in Indonesia that deals with nobility that the Indonesian government did not want to leak out.  This book turns out to be true because the author based this story on his grandmother's life.  There are no chapters so the book kept pushing me to keep on reading.  I wanted to keep learning what was happening to her and I kept hoping they would finally mention her name but they never do.  It just kept me reading wanting to learn her name and knowing if she could continue on living as his wife or if her fate would be the same as the other women.  I really enjoyed learning about life from an outsider coming in.  It's harsh to realize that women have no rights in several parts of the world.  It's difficult to understand how in the United States women fought for years, they went to jail, they defied their husbands just to have the same rights as men but still that thought is untouched in large parts of the world.  Its sorrowful to be with the main character throughout her entire journey from being torn away from her life to torn away from her child.  I think that this is a book I could recommend to several other people.

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Indonesia Map

Indonesia Map | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it
Ayelen's insight:

This is a map of Indonesia.  In the book "The Girl from the Coast", the only city that is really mentioned is Rembaq which is the city that the Bendoro lives in.  It is by the coast but far enough away that it cannot be impacted by storms.  The girl in the story mentions several times how she can still hear the waves crashing from the garden.  It is a very small country and it is interesting to realize why the village the girl is from can be poor because the entire country is basically sorrounded by water so there are a lot of towns that are fishing villages as well.

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Child bride horrors last a lifetime - CNN.com

Child bride horrors last a lifetime - CNN.com | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it
Reem al Numeri is 14-years-old and recently divorced. She was 11 when she says her father forced her to marry a cousin more than twice her age.
Ayelen's insight:

In this article it discusses how in Yemen girls are married frequently. This particular article discusses how a young girl was already divorced by the age of fourteen. When a young girl is married it is for the parents to sort of rid themselves of having her as a responsibility and to also to hopefully give her a man to protect and provide for her. However, once married off the husband has total power over the wife. Many arranged marriages are between cousins within the families. When girls are also married off many are forced to have sex. The article mentions how she was raped by her husband no matter the fact that she locked her door every night to try to protect herself. In many countries young girls that are married go unnoticed even though it is illegal. However, in Yemen it is legal for younger girls to be married. However, this article also mentions how in 2008 a girl went to the court and asked a judge for a divorce. This rarely happens considering that the men are the one's in complete control over the wives and even the husband's family has complete control over her. Once divorced girls are considered to be outcasts. No one wants to marry them usually because they are considered to not be pure because they have been with another man. Usually, her own family will shun her as what happened to Reem in the article. Her father no longer wanted her because she would be a burden after the divorce and she now had no husband. Girls under these circumstances will not have anyone to help or take care of her. Girls all over the world have these issues occurring each day.

In "The Girl from the Coast" one of the characters connects to the girl, Reem, mentioned through out the book even though it is not the main character. It is the servant of hers from Demark, Mardinah. In several passages she mentions how she has been divorced. She also mentions that she can never marry again because she is divorced. That is why she is now a servant even though she is the daughter of noblemen. She was sent to the Bendoro's house to try to convince the Bendoro to marry a woman of his class. "'I was once married to an important man'" (Toer 127). She was once but as I mentioned before, she does say often how she cannot marry again because she was now divorced. Unlike the article, Mardinah had a family that was wealthy and was able to find another husband. Even though her husband was of a much lesser class then where she was from and that he had never worked a day in his life so he had to work very hard she was not outcasted. She was taken in by the village, they were willing to teach her the ways of life that she had never known.

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Arranged' Marriage

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The article is a review about a book that the writer read. The author basically ponders why arranged marriages are considered to be arranged. In the book the author, Shoba Narayan, writes about how families work with arranged marriages. The fact that the writer of the article questions the book because in the book the author states how an arranged meeting between the prospective husband and wife takes place and they date for a month then the man asks her to marry him. What the author asks is why does the women really have to comply to the arranged marriage because if they find that they do not match then why get married? What really is stopping them from no getting married? The writer also notes that arranged marriages even have the lowest rate of divorces. Overall, the author asks why do arranged marriages truly take place and seems to believe that an arranged marriage is not entirely forced and could actually become beneficial.

In the book, the girl is forced from her home to somewhere she has never been before to become the wife of someone powerful. She does not know him and continuously asks her parents why she must go. The book opens up with the upsetting scene of her mother redoing the "Girl from the Coast" make-up because she keeps crying. "'You mustn't cry,' she scolded her daughter. 'You're know the wife of an important man.' The girl didn't understand. Neither did she know what lay ahead" (Toer 5). Even though it is not a legal marriage for him but it is for her it is an arranged marriage. She is what is known as a "practice wife". "A man such as the Bendoro who took a common woman for a wife was not considered married, even if the couple produced a dozen children. Such marriages were 'practice marriages,' rehearsals for the man's real marriage..." (Toer 76). The girl first does not like becoming the wife of a noblemen. She does not wish to live her life out in silence and away from the people she loves. Towards the middle of the book the girl ends up loving her husband. However, they do end up getting a divorce because he was upset that she was pregnant and on top of that she had a daughter instead of a son.

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Burung-Burung Manyar

Burung-Burung Manyar | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it
A landmark novel, The Weaverbirds is a tale of both physical and spiritual struggle, spanning the formative days of Indonesian independen...
Ayelen's insight:

This book deals with opposite spectrums dealing in Indonesia.  Many people think very differently and will always have conflicting thoughts that come across in just about every topic. This book dwells into more about Indonesia and how more people are effected not just by different social and economic classes but how it effects the poor and wealthy.  The struggle within yourself and with others is a trademark that also pops into "The Girl from the Coast" that intices the mind to learn more on what goes on in relationships between people and inside yourself.

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Arranged Marriage Facts

Arranged Marriage Facts | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it
Arranged marriages are viewed as a social and economic necessity, the terms of which are agreed upon by the families of the future groom and bride.
Ayelen's insight:

This adds on to how many believe that arranged marriages is not necessarily wrong and noting that it is more prevelant then many people realize.  It mentions five key facts that don't put down arranged marriage but neither does it support it, it mentions how arranged marriages last longer than normal marriages do and how the divorce rates are significantly less then a "normal" marriage.  It also mentions one thing that comes up in several websites that go against arranged marriage where people believe that an arranged marriage is always forced which is not because many people are turning towards having both parties consent to the marriage which is mentioned in another article "Report from a Pashtun Teen: Arranged Marriage".  It's interesting to look at facts behind arranged marriages since many people just assume certain stereotypes about arranged marriages are true.

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Adolescent Marriage: Crossroad or Status Quo?

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This article discusses the outcomes that can come with adolescent marriage. It opens up with a quote from a woman who was young when she was married and stated that they were the worst years of her life. In the era that we live in now, age plays a large role in how relationships work out such as if there is too large of an age gap it is illegal. However, the article puts down the idea of a young marriage. The article gives several statistics why a young girl should not be married. Several statistics are against the death possibility for young girls having children. It also puts down the idea of a young girl being married because she would not mature the same as other girls should. She could be forced to have intercourse with her husband and it considered alright in many countries. The article also states how many of these girls will never end up with an education because the only life they will know is being a wife and a mother.

In "The Girl from the Coast", she was lucky to be able to deliver her baby and not die. Her baby almost died and there was the high possibility that it was dead. However, the baby and mother both ended up living which contradicts the article because the book made it sound like she had an easy time to have the baby. Also, the main character actually ended up getting an education because she was married. Granted that she married to a wealthy man and it is less likely that she would have gotten an education is she had married someone of her same class but that also contradicts the article. In one section of the book it describes how the girl had her first intimate encounter with her husband. Of course she knew nothing about what had happened and she kept questioning her servant what had happened to her. "The girls mind reeled with darkened images of the night before: her husband coming into her room and lifting the cloth that covered her lower body. 'What happened?' she asked, for she herself was not completely sure" (Toer 67). This passage details on how she is almost robbed of her virginity but she has no idea about it. The girl also complained about how much pain she was in because she also had no started menstruating so her body was not ready for a sexual encounter of the sort. The article also mentioned girls can be forced into sexual actions before they are ready and may not matter because a man is allowed to do what he wishes to his wife in several countries still which is what is the case in the book. The passages that detail her encounter with the servant after her night with her husband clearly showed how she was somewhat forced into something she did not know about.

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Indonesia

Indonesia | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it
Ayelen's insight:

In this article written by Clarke E. Cunningham, he discusses many aspects on life in Indonesia. In The "Marriage and Parenthood" section he discusses a sort of arranged marriage that takes place in Indonesia. It states how many marriages are solidified through negotiations and gift exchanges. In some parts of Indonesia, arranged marriages are between who are nearly or distantly related. Divorce is also an option of course out of arranged marriages. However, divorce for Muslims favor the male and the women is left with almost nothing and is usually marked as a women that should not be married again. The fact that marriages are almost like a business is sad because not all people can just fall in love and marry whomever they want.

In the book, the father was given money, rice and the possibility of building a prayer house and having a teacher come to the small fishing village in exchange for the Bendoro to marry his daughter. The girl had no choice or voice of whether she wanted to marry him and was forced to go to the city to live with him and be his practice wife. The marriage was not with love and ended in a divorce. "Her hand reached for the tortoiseshell comb. Raising it toward her head, she noticed its silver handle and how it gleamed in the light" (Toer 21). The husband even tries to buy off the girl with very lavish gifts. She continuously questions why because not even her parents who truly loved her had given such things to her. This divorce was not taken up in court as it would be now but in that time frame the Bendoro simply called her father to come collect her because he did not want her anymore. The Bendoro even gave him money enough to buy two more large fishing boats if he wanted to. "'As you said, the girl is my child. Now, you can leave this house and you can take your clothes and jewelry, too, everything I ever gave you" (Toer 260). Even when the "Girl from the Coast" is trying to ask the Bendoro why she must leave and why she must leave her daughter behind he simply says for her to take all her riches and just act like nothing has happened. He tries to bribe her into leaving her child and forgetting the life she lead for years. So, in the end, both the marriage, divorce and custody of the daughter were dealt with gift exchange by the Bendoro giving to get what he wanted. However, like the article said, the Bendoro ends up keeping the daughter instead of letting the mother have her and that was the biggest lose of all for the "Girl from the Coast".

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Report from a Pashtun Teen: Arranged Marriage

Report from a Pashtun Teen: Arranged Marriage | The Girl from the Coast: Arranged Marriages | Scoop.it
17 year-old guest blogger Sher Bano writes about arranged marriages in Pakistan.
Ayelen's insight:

This article is written by a girl that is from Pakistan who personally got to see both sides of marriage.  In her hometown there are arranged marriage but not marriages by force that is sometimes seen in parts of the world, but unlike other places the husband and wife to-be are the ones who will make the overall decision whether or not to marry.  Many people in her hometown of Peshawar marry their first cousins which seems to be very common in areas that practice arranged marriages.  The teen who wrote this book came to Illinois through a study abroad program and got to see what a "normal" marriage could come from.  She got to see how boys and girls would date each other which is not common in areas that practice arranged marriage.  In fact, it is frowned open in many countries and religions in the world.  She also felt ashamed considering in Illinois it is illegal to marry your first cousin and many of her family members are married to one another. She continues on to explain how an arranged marriage is not as bad as many people make it out to be.  She explains the process in being married and how the engagement can come around with parents suggesting the marriage and usually the couple date for a month to decide if they should marry.  If they do not marry then the parents go and find another possibly spouse for their child.  In the author's case, she suggests how an arranged marriage benefits people more then outsiders believe.  The families work hard together to try to make the marriage work when the couple reaches a rocky path in their marriage.  She also suggests that arranged marriages last longer because parents who have been through the process know what is best for their children.  She also points out a major topic which comes up a lot to go against arranged marriages which is age. Yes, in several countries girls as young as 14 are married off to 30 year old men but the author notes how in her hometown most women marry in their early twenties and many marry men that are much older.  If not, most people are married before they are 30 unlike America where many women are starting to be married at older ages.
This article is extremely insightful to the different kinds of marriages that occur all over the world.  In "The Girl from the Coast" the arranged marriage is probably the typical arranged marriage many people in the western hemisphere picture when hearing the words.  "She was only fourteen at the time, a wisp of a thing" (Toer 3).  This sentence hits a point that is mentioned in the article.  Many people assume that arranged marriages are between young girls and thirty years old or older men.  In the book, as mentioned, the girl was fourteen years old.  The Bendoro, when he is described, could be no older than thirty years old.  Yes, there is a large gap in the ages but it is not as awful as many people believe it to be.  Just like it is mentioned in the article, women don't always marry men that are twenty years older than her.  However, in the book the marriage is forced.  The girl was never asked if she wanted to marry him.  "'Can't we just go home, Ma?' the girl pleaded" (Toer 18).  The girl continuously asks her mother and father to just take her home because she does not want to be wedded to the Bendoro. The fact that she is forced just because the Bendoro gave her parents money just so he could be married to her.  The father and the mother in the beginning are both very wary of what they are doing to their daughter.  So unlike the article suggests, the girl had no choice unlike now where women have a little more of a say in the hometown of the article's author.  Of course as the years go by there may be changes in how arranged marriages work from 20th century Indonesia to present day.  In the book, it is mentioned how man and wife are usually paired together.  Noblemen and women had a more lavish arrangement for their marriage while common people seem to also have an arranged marriage but usually they seem to enjoy or love each other at the same time.  In the case with Mardinah and Dul is the perfect example.  Dul had never spoken and was not normal, he never went out to sea like other men and he was not married.  However, when Mardinah came to the village, Dul opened up and was able to take to her easily.  He seemed very happy to have her as company and because of the possibility that they were engaged in some intimate bonding between the two they had to be married.  Mardinah was asked by the girl several times if she wanted to this.  "Mardinah lifted her shoulders as if to say that fate cannot be sought and luck cannot be determined" (Toer 234).  As shown in the sentence Mardinah considers that she really has no choice if she really wanted to marry Dul.  She slept with him and now she simply had to marry him whether she loved him or not.  This was mentioned in the article on whether it is better to love and get married or to be married.  As the article also states that arranged marriages have the lowest divorce rate and that the article states how the author's aunt claimed she had to learn to love to make the relationship work out between her and her husband.  The book and the article are completely contradicting each other but it shows a great deal on how arranged marriage is not always negative and not all arranged marriages are forced or end with tragedy.  It is something that people know that has to happen in certain cultures.

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National Geographic Live! - Too Young to Wed

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair and writer Cynthia Gorney investigate the world of prearranged child marriage, where girls as young as five are forced to wed.
Ayelen's insight:

This video shows the life of several girls that have gone into prearranged marraiges. All of this girls were also children that were being married off. In this film Stephanie Sinclair is a photographer that travels taking many pictures. In the beginning she takes pictures of several young girls that are at a burn ward because they had burned themselves and set themselves on fire in fear of their husbands. She also discusses how many women are trying to help the cause to bring more rights to women in Afghanistan. She shares the work some women have done to help encourage more safety for girls that are being married at a young age. Cynthia Gorney is a women that has also gone around many countries to talk to women on arranged marriages. She had the chance to also find a wedding that was to take place one of the days they were in Afghanistan and they were able to come and see the wedding and take photographs. They witnessed as two young sisters that were teenagers prepared themselves with beautiful make-up and wearing bright colors. They also, shockingly, witnessed a girl of eight being prepared for her marriage as well. They went through each step they take to be prepared for their wedding which was a very long process.

In the book the main character, the "Girl from the Coast", was a girl of the age of fourteen when the Bendoro came to the village and saw how beautiful she was so he asked her to be sent to his home to be his wife. She had no choice in the matter like most children do.  Her father thought of how if his daughter could marry someone of high status like the Bendoro that maybe she would be given a chance into a better life.  He thought that his daughter would have the chance to not live her life in fear because of the sea, a chance to also learn about religion, and to learn other things in life other then learning about how to grind shrimp down.  She was young, of course not as young as one of the girls in the documentary but she was still growing and she was torn away from her family.  In the beginning the Bendoro wanted to know about if the girl had started menstruating to know if she was able to have children.  She did not even understand when they asked her that question, she looked confused and was not sure what to say to the question.  This adds to the innocence presented in child brides, they are not sure about the life that is going around them and they will continue to not learn because they are hidden away into life.  The girl's father later realized that it was not a good decision because of how she felt alone and she cried continuously when she came and visited her village.  She complained and begged to her parents to not throw her away and by this time she was gone for over a year from the only people she ever knew in her life.

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