Sunday, June 7, 2009

Matchmaking in Gaza, and Bollywood

Marriage is important everywhere, and matching and matchmaking seems to have a lot in common across disparate cultures, although the design of matching markets certainly have some local twists, including who the parties to the match are, e.g. the young couple themselves, or their parents:

Militant Hamas Gets Into Matchmaking Business
"The applicants, who pay a fee of $10-$70, are divided into categories according to their eligibility. Women under 25 are easiest to marry off; more challenging are women over 30 and divorcees.
But in a nod to Gaza's grinding poverty triumphing over its conservative culture, there is a special file for women with jobs. Bringing home a salary in Gaza can trump any other category, matchmakers say.
In the women's application, they describe their ideal man. Most ask for a devout Muslim with a job and his own apartment, a top find in crowded Gaza.
Women also must describe their appearance and answer a killer question: ''Do you consider yourself pretty according to Gaza standards?''
The ideal of beauty in Gaza means tall and fair-skinned with blue or green eyes and light-colored hair -- and that's what men usually ask for. But most Gaza women have dark hair and bronze skin.
''If we see a girl that appears to match (a man), but she's not physically what he wants, I'll call him and say, 'Well, she's pretty, but she's dark.' Or 'she's short, but she's white.' We encourage them to be a bit more realistic,'' Khalil said."
...
"Around 40 men a month turn to Tayseer in search of a wife. When association employees think there's a match, they quietly organize a meeting, with employees acting as chaperones in compliance with Islamic law. If the couple like each other, Gaza's traditional courtship kicks in.
The man's relatives visit the woman's family, saying that a well-meaning stranger told them of a girl wanting to marry. The matchmakers are not mentioned, because their role is still taboo, said Khalil."

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, there is a different challenge to a different tradition of arranged marriage (the photo of the prospective bride suggests some other differences between India and Gaza also):
Bollywood's Rakhi Sawant takes search for a husband to prime time TV
"Rakhi Sawant, a Bollywood dancer, actress and television host, has refused a union brokered by her parents. Instead, she has promised to find the perfect man herself — with the aid of a prime time TV series.
Rakhi Ka Swayamvar (Rakhi’s Search for a Husband) has attracted more than 12,500 aspirant grooms from across the subcontinent. The show is due to begin later this month but the outspoken celebrity’s promise to marry on air has already whipped up controversy in what remains a rigidly conservative country."
...
"A recent survey by the International Institute for Population Sciences found that 95 per cent of marriages in India today are arranged by the families of the bride and groom. More than 70 per cent of married women between the ages of 15 and 24 said that they were never asked their views on their future husband before their wedding. About a quarter said that their first sexual experience within marriage was forced."

Related recent posts:
Marriage and dating online in Korea, Marriage and dating online (in the U.S.), Marriage market in India

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