The truth is it has everything to do with Islam. It may be at some level a cultural thing, but it's existence is justified and perpetuated by Islamic teachings that explicitly condone this practice.
According to the Shafi''i fiqh, a bride's father or father's father may "compel their charge to marry... without her consent." In fact, Muslim scholars are "unanimously agreed that a father may marry off his young daughter without consulting her".
From the Manchester Evening News:
|Nawab, left, and Bahaud Udin|
A Muslim preacher has gone on trial accused of threatening to kill his daughter after she refused an arranged marriage.
Abid Hussain is alleged to have attacked the 16-year-old girl after she rejected his plans for her to marry her first cousin.
The alleged victim, Rabiyah Abid, was in a romance with a student she had met in Facebook – and had previously run away from home to be with him.
Mr Hussain, a dad-of-five, is alleged to have grabbed her by the throat and said, ‘follow my rules or I’ll kill you’, before hitting her on the head at the family home above the mosque he runs at Northmoor Road, Longsight, Manchester.
Mr Hussain, who denies assault, is on trial alongside two of his sons, Nawab Uddin, 23, and Bahaud Uddin, 21.
The two young men are alleged to have robbed their sister of the mobile phone she used to contact the boyfriend they disapproved of and to have beaten her until she was dizzy. They deny assault and robbery.
Opening the case, Henry Blackshaw, prosecuting, told the jury that the girl lived in a ‘very male dominated, patriarchal household’ where she was ‘exhausted’ by cooking and cleaning.
She had been ‘betrothed’ by her father to his sister’s son in Pakistan at just 15 years old, but ended up falling for a student she had met online months later.
In November last year, while her father was celebrating Eid in Pakistan, the student travelled from London to Oldham to stay with a pal and the girl left her home to stay with him.
This prompted her brother, Nawab, to report her missing. When police traced her, she told them of her fears that she would be forced to marry when she had finished her GCSEs.
When her father returned from Pakistan, he learned that she had stayed with her secret boyfriend, and to add ‘insult to injury’, was served with Forced Marriage Prevention Order that officers had helped her obtain.
Mr Blackshaw said Mr Hussain saw the order, which led to the girl’s passport being taken by the authorities, was a ‘combination of her and the UK judicial system depriving him of his right to choose her husband within his own family’. Weeks later, on December 26, he is alleged to have attacked her. In the aftermath of the incident, she sent a message to her boyfriend saying ‘I thought I was going to die last night’.
Describing the alleged attack to police, she said: “He used his right hand to grab my neck. It was quite painful. He said ‘If you don’t follow my rules I will kill you.’ He was quite angry, really angry.”
Two days later her brothers, Nawab and Bahaud, allegedly took her phone from her and struck her about the face and head, leading her to wear a veil to hide her injuries. The next day she reported them to police.
Mr Blackshaw said of Abid Hussain: “He is plainly a devout man retaining traditional values regarding family matters, which is the reason for what we say was the offending in this case, because his daughter was not going along with his wishes in following that cultural duty.”