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Land of the UnconquerableThe Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women$
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Jennifer Heath and Ashraf Zahedi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520261853

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520261853.001.0001

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Between Choice and Force

Between Choice and Force

Marriage Practices in Afghanistan

(p.162) Chapter 10 Between Choice and Force
Land of the Unconquerable

Deborah J. Smith

University of California Press

This chapter addresses the manner in which individuals' opinions and desires frequently run counter to the demands of cultural norms, and also considers the diversity in how marriages in Afghanistan are decided, and the notions of force and choice in relation to marriage decisions. The aspects of marriage practices that can act as precursors to violence in the marriage, and the amount of awareness found across the communities as to the negative consequences of particular marriage practices are explained. It is emphasized that the levels of influence family members have over marriage decisions were found to be determined primarily by household structure and individuals' personal histories and characteristics rather than by gross demographic factors such as education levels; economic position; place of residence, whether urban or rural; and ethnicity. The diversity and complexity found in decision-making processes reveal that cultural norms are not fixed but open to change.

Keywords:   marriages, Afghanistan, violence, household structure, ethnicity, residence, education

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