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The Ugly Side of Multiculuralism in the US: Teen Runs Away to Escape Arranged Marriage

Jessie Marie Bender, a 13 year old girl in Hesperia, California went missing for 8 days. Her parents claimed that she had run off to meet a man from Chicago that she found on Facebook. However, the girl was found hiding out in a motel with her Uncle. She had actually run away to escape a marriage in Pakistan arranged by her step-father, Mohammad Khan. Melissa Bender, the girl’s mother, said that both she and Khan had passed lie detector tests. Khan is originally from Pakistan, a place where women are viewed as property. There it is not uncommon at all to have arranged marriages between young girls and much older men; that is their culture. However in the US, it’s not only illegal but seen as appalling to marry girls off to old men. In this country, women enjoy the same freedoms as men and not only go to school, but also have their own careers.

When different cultures in the US such as this, violate the law, it should make us question how much we will tolerate of other cultures. The generally held belief in this country is that everyone deserves freedoms and rights; however, at times we push that to the side in order to be tolerant and respectful of other cultures. There’s a fine line between tolerating another culture’s beliefs and simply enabling abuse. In my opinion, if you are going to live in another country, then you fall under the same law as any other citizen. For example, if I were to live in the Middle East, I would have to follow their laws.  This relates to the large Muslim community in France.  Many aspects of the Muslim culture are illegal under French law. For example, there has been a lot of controversy over the banning of the burqa, which is a kind of clothing worn by Muslim women that covers the entire body, including the face.

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