We take it for granted we'll marry someone of our own choice even if it doesn't always work out right in the end...but most our ancestors...certainly those from the 1300 and 1400's who were not peasants or serfs, would have had their marriages arranged from the moment they were born...to seal alliances and to ensure inheritances and to forge stronger bonds between differing families.
It was only gradually that choice came into the equation...even some Victorian families went to great pains to ensure their children 'married well' even if that meant over-riding their own choices of a spouse.
We've come to expect and accept that a girl may choose her own life-partner without interference from family members...unless you happen to be a young Indian girl living with conservative parents in England.
An organisation has been set up to try and help those teenagers...and some are barely teens, but are still only eleven and twelve years old...from being taken to India during the school holidays to be married off to a man who is the parents choice of a husband.
The child is unlikely to have ever met him before...he may well be twenty or thirty years older than she...
Indian girls who cannot communicate their very real concerns about entering an arranged marriage with their parents for fear of reprisal, are being advised to put a spoon into their underwear. The spoon triggers the airport security scanners...they are taken...alone...to a private room to be further investigated, where they have the opportunity of asking for help from trained advisors who will then guide and help them through the process of going against their parents wishes to coerce them into an arranged marriage.
I hope it scheme works...I hope Indian Mothers don't search their daughters underwear for spoons or anything else which may trigger the alarms from the airport scanners...
And a huge part of my thinking is that it is against the law in England to marry a child to a man far older than she or to force anyone into a marriage against their will whatever their age...
And so why do those people from the sub-continent live in a country where they have to be devious to avoid the law of the country they've chosen as their home...?
If I was to decide to live in Saudi Arabia, then I'd do so understanding and abiding by their laws...there'd be little point in rebelling against not being able to drink alcohol or holding hands in the street because those are the laws of their country...maybe I wouldn't always agree with them...but it is offensive to simply find a way to disobey something they....your host country...has a law about.
And should I find that the Saudis ban on alcohol is too much to live with, then I'd come back to Ireland where it is allowed to drink yourself into a stupor should you so wish.
Many people from overseas live in countries that are not their place of birth for economic reasons...and that doesn't bother me one hoot...but you can't pick and choose the bits you like about the country and deviate from the long-standing rules and regulations as and when you choose.
Teresa and Reuben spend a fortnight of every year travelling to exotic and unusual places...what drives T quite demented is when members of their tour complain bitterly about being made to cover their arms and legs when visiting places which are sacred to the country they are in...whining about not being able to get a decent cup of tea is another. not being allowed the the use of mobile 'phones and cameras in certain places is yet another...T did once round on a couple who were grumbling at not being allowed into a Holy place while wearing shorts...'Then stay outside' she said...wait for us outside.
Now those people are just visiting...they might be an awful pain for grousing about the rules...but imagine what they'd be like if they actually lived there...
The rough estimate for Indian girls going to India during the school holidays to enter into an arranged marriage is about 1,500...some re-enter England more or less immediately...some have to stay until they become pregnant...some never return.
So maybe concealing a teaspoon in your knickers is one last chance to escape a lifetime of marriage to a man you neither know nor much like...