Journal Article

Vulnerable Brides and Transnational Ghar Damads

Published 1 January 2006 / By COMPAS Communications

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Based on research in Pakistan and the English city of Bristol, this article examines the increasingly common practice of transnational marriages between British-born Pakistanis and Pakistani nationals, in which the latter normally migrate to join their spouses in the UK. Informants and the literature stress the risks faced by women in marriage, and these may be heightened by the increased distance between migrant brides’ natal and marital homes in transnational marriages. The challenges faced by migrant husbands in the culturally unusual position of moving to join their wives have, however, received far less attention. These are examined in terms of cultural models of marriage and migration, asymmetry in expectations of marital ‘adjustment’ and compromise, masculinity and the position of the uxorilocally resident son-in-law (ghar damad). It is suggested that this approach, which recognises the relational character of gender, has much to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of transnational marriages, including insights on marriages that have ended with the husband’s violence or desertion.