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Gender and Justice in Multicultural Liberal States$
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Monique Deveaux

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289790

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289790.001.0001

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Personal Autonomy and Cultural Tradition: The Arranged Marriage Debate in Britain

Personal Autonomy and Cultural Tradition: The Arranged Marriage Debate in Britain

(p.155) 6 Personal Autonomy and Cultural Tradition: The Arranged Marriage Debate in Britain
Gender and Justice in Multicultural Liberal States

Monique Deveaux (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the ways in which particular liberal notions of personal autonomy sit uneasily with certain cultural practices, especially those of ‘traditional’ or nonliberal groups. It argues that idealized, substantive ideals of autonomy can impede attempts to understand, evaluate, and where necessary, reform cultural traditions. The particular example that provides the focus for this chapter is that of the public debate on arranged and forced marriages among some (mostly Muslim) South Asians in Briton, a practice which has in recent years attracted the attention of British media, politicians, and the public. By examining the ways in which arranged and forced marriage have been framed in public debates in Britain, this discussion sheds light both on the limitations of the liberal autonomy paradigm — with its emphasis on choice and consent — and demonstrates the importance of engaging minority communities in the evaluation and reform of their own traditions.

Keywords:   South Asians, cultural traditions, nonliberal, forced marriage, reform, Muslim

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