Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

AS demonstrated by the emasculated Rio carnival that was the Millennium Dome's opening ceremony, multiculturalism is one of the government's favourite battle-cries. But just how deep does its commitment to other cultures go? About as deep, it turns out, as an aborigine's battledress. While New Labour is comfortable encouraging ethnic dancing, there is only one culture that it will tolerate when it comes to real issues, and that is human-rights culture.

The Home Office minister Mike O'Brien has launched an action plan against arranged marriages - or `forced marriages' as the government likes to call them. The tradition of parents choosing their children's marital partners - long-established among families from the Indian subcontinent who have subsequently settled in Britain - has now been declared a `fundamental breach of human rights'. Though it stops short of proposing an outright ban on arranged marriages, a Home Office report suggests helpfully that sex within such a marriage henceforth be considered to be rape.

The plan has already come up against strong opposition from the more conservative-minded elements of Asian society, who see arranged marriages as instrumental in the stability of their family life, and who look with horror upon the dysfunctional white families whom they live alongside. …

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