Arranged marriages are not necessarily forced marriages

Regarding the Oct. 5 article, "British tolerance for forced unions wanes": Please note there is a great difference between a forced and an arranged marriage.

Forced marriage is somewhat common in the culture of the Asian subcontinent and thus is found not only among Muslims but also Sikhs, Hindus, and others with links to the subcontinent.

In Islam, prospective partners have to consent to the marriage in order for the marriage to be valid; otherwise it is null and void.

People can of course ask a close friend or relative to suggest to them any suitable candidate for them to marry, or they may approve of an unsolicited suggestion.

Either situation would constitute an arranged marriage, as the prospective partners might not know each other directly but would approve of the suggestion of a person they both trust. This arrangement could enable a suitable match for the benefit of all.

Due to ignorance, some mix culture and religion or do not realize the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage.

I completely object to and abhor forced marriages. I am OK with arranged marriage, as long as indeed there is no force involved, but both partners are aware of and happy with the setup.
Rianne C. ten Veen
Birmingham, England

Benchmarks key to measuring progress

Thanks for the Oct. 7 editorial, "The coming G.I. drawdown in Iraq." It verbalized a key concept America's political leaders seem uncomfortable with or incapable of facing: benchmarks of progress for the conflict in Iraq.

As Americans, we need the administration to provide such benchmarks so we can judge how this war is going.

The daily news brings a mix of hopeful and gloomy stories without indicating a discernible pattern of progress. The Pentagon's announcements are equally inconsistent, with boasts of the Iraqi Army's progress followed by unexplained backtracking.

Let the Bush administration state the landmarks we all can use that will show Iraq's progress on the path to viability as a state without a constant protective presence.

For too long the president and his aides have been getting by with "trust-us" rhetoric.

Without insisting on a timetable, we all need to know what yardstick we can use to measure the progress of this grievous mission.
Peter Weiss
Berne, N.Y.

Should US stay in Iraq?

Regarding the Oct. 7 article, "Bush frames battle of 21st century": Americans are clearly willing to support action against terrorists, but they are increasingly unhappy about the war of choice Bush has waged in Iraq.

It bears repeating that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or the Bali or London terrorist attacks. Nor was Iraq "terrorist central" until the Bush administration decided to invade.

Now that it is a terrorist haven, should we pull American troops out? Who knows? At this point, I'm afraid we would be in trouble either way.
David Konigsberg
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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