Endogamy is the practice of marrying within an extended family, tribe,
ethnic or religious group. It is a traditional practice which is aimed
at preserving community cohesion, but it can also drive child marriage.
When girls are seen as being at risk of ‘inappropriate’ sexual advances from
those outside their own community, this can make their parents feel under
pressure to marry them off.
In addition to general patterns of endogamy, specific cultural
practices aimed at consolidating relations between families and/or
preserving community cohesion can leave girls in the position of being
treated as financial assets by their families. For example, many submissions
talked about the Pakistani practice of Watta Satta, in which girls are
exchanged between families through marriage to strengthen alliances
between them. Other written submissions described various exchange
marriages, where girls are effectively given as if they were property to their
husband’s parents, not only to form alliances, but also to settle disputes,
strengthen land and property claims, and as compensation for crime.
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