Half of our clients are immigrants, these days mostly from the third world. They bring very different cultural mores. Obviously patriarchy is a given in their culture. This causes great stresses here. But it is compounded by the relevance of the family, and who makes the decisions and what are the implications for the individual family members.
In many of these countries child brides are acceptable. Marriages are arranged by the family and in those circumstances the woman or girl in some cases has zero rights and the man is a free agent to do what he wants. Her role is to be submissive, that is expected by her, her father and her mother. Breaking the rules can lead to alienation and shame from the family unit. Coming here is a major shift and each side can have problems accepting it. More often the woman is anxious to break out, but may be afraid to break away from the traditions. An arranged marriage has no room for a mutual divorce, he decides whether she stays or goes. In other cases he can have more than one wife , so then there is a pecking order established.
It’s easy to be judgmental of these customs, to the Western eyes they are medieval. Unfortunately many families don’t have the infrastructure to handle the cultural shift as it is against what they stand for. So it is almost ironic that the only way out of this is when charges are laid and the whole value system is exposed. A wise immigrant would be smart to be attuned that there is a cultural shift in coming here. It’s hard to know whether most do understand or most don’t. What we see is just the tip of the iceberg. It has been up to the women to push away at the traditions slowly spiritual leaders are being enrolled, but it is a slow process.