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Forced Marriage and Modern Slavery: Analysing Marriage as a “Choiceless Choice”

McCabe, H, Stickle, W and Baumeister, H (2022) Forced Marriage and Modern Slavery: Analysing Marriage as a “Choiceless Choice”. Journal of Modern Slavery, 7 (2). pp. 33-57. ISSN 2574-9897

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Abstract

Several international conventions, and domestic law in fifty-two countries, ban forced marriage, and Human Rights conventions insist that marriage should only be entered into with the “free and full consent” of both parties. Using rational choice theory, we show that a closer examination of this concept reveals the extremely “bounded” nature of consent to marriage, such that marriage may be a “choiceless choice”, even where such marriages would not – in law – be considered “forced”. We do not use this to argue that all marriages are forms of modern slavery, but to urge for caution, and further research into the ways in which the powers attaching to the rights of ownership are exercised by one person over another could be manifested in marriage (i.e. could be de facto slavery), and the extent to which forced marriage necessarily involves a loss of sexual autonomy and non-commercial labour extracted under menace of penalty “under the guise of marriage” (i.e. be a form of modern slavery as defined by the International Labour Organisation and Walk Free). We agree that this might be manifested in a lack of consent to the marriage in the initial ceremony. However, we argue that this focus misses a variety of other ways in which some marriages could rightly be considered forms of modern slavery either narrowly or broadly understood, or as forms of human trafficking.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Law
Publisher: SlaveFree Today
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2022 11:01
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2022 11:30
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16014

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