Is this real?
Louise Livesey // 10 September 2007
OK so it may be a wind-up, but if so someone took a lot of time over this…
Imagine a website where parents can “list” their teenager daughters for marriage based on the biblical notions of “bride-price” and arranged marriages. Now I have no problem with consensual arranged marriages however this is a typical advert.
Age: 14 ½,
$27,995 Kyra likes the outdoors, more the open air of the beach or the desert than the woods. She would love to live somewhere away from it all. She is bright and funny and full of life and while she has little direct experience with the opposite sex we have made sure she is aware of everything she needs to know to be a good wife and mother.
$49,995 Courtney’s grandmother married at 13, her mother married at 13, and Courtney has decided she wants to keep the tradition going. She would prefer to stay close to her large extended southern family and loves farm or at least rural life. She got an A in Home Ec. and has read up on what else would be expected of her as a wife and is looking forward to it.
The site lists the exemptions to the legal age of consent for marriage (which is without parental consent) which includes some States with no absolute minimum age of consent. The site also lists testimonials including these:
“I was SO scared getting married so young, but my husband is an okay guy and I am SO proud that because of me my parents were able to get their first brand-new car and take the trip they always wanted to. I couldn’t have done it without your site!”
—Katrina K., married at 14
“Our 15 year old daughter Mary wasn’t very popular and did nothing but mope around the house bringing everybody down, so we decided to marry her off through your site. Now our house is a lot cheerier and we love our new swimming pool and Jaccuzi! We’ve told our youngest that when she turns 15 we’re going to marry her off too!”
—Mrs. James P.
“My mother thought I was getting ‘too frisky” and that I had to get married right away before I lost my purity to some high school boy. Marry Our Daughter found me a husband and my parents were able to keep their house and pay off my mother’s medical bills. I was so glad I could help them, and being married at my age (I’m 16 now) has a lot of advantages, like my own credit card!”
Handily there are also hints on negotiating a bride-price (did you think it was free?). Bride-price (mentioned a handful of times in the Old Testament) is largely based on the story of Jacob and Rachel and her father Laban.
“I am willing to serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter,” said Jacob to his future father-in-law, Laban. (Genesis 29:18) Because of Jacob’s love for Rachel, he offered a high price—the equivalent of seven years’ wages! Laban accepted the offer but tricked Jacob into first marrying his older daughter, Leah. Laban’s subsequent dealings with Jacob continued to be devious. (Genesis 31:41)”
Surely I’m not the only one to see that this can just as easily be read as a cautionary tale against bride-price? The site itself charges parents 5% of the bride-price for successful “introductions”.
The mind boggles….but Snopes thinks it may be a hoax. So the question is, funny or not? For me this sort of “satire” lacks imagnation and undermines the seriousness of situations similar to this which do carry on (including purportedly in the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness communities as well as elsewhere). Even assuming it’s a hoax, it’s one which legitimises the trade in girls bodies as sex objects and undermines the freedoms being fought for in some parts of the world like a right to education before being married off.