Hadiya*, Aditi*, and Fraidy – three women, each from distinctly different cultural and religious backgrounds, but sadly, all facing the same crisis in their lives – leaving an arranged marriage.
An arranged marriage…the term seems so out of place in our modern world and yet in our country today there are thousands of women trapped in such marriages, most with little hope of escaping what has often become a life of physical and emotional abuse.
Fraidy Reiss’ family arranged her marriage at the age of 19 and she became a mother at 20. When it became obvious that her husband was abusive, there was little Fraidy could do to help herself. She had no education, no exposure to the modern world. If she thought of leaving it was likely that she could lose custody of her (then) two children and become a pariah in her own community. Life became a nightmare and the whole idea of an arranged marriage took on a much more significant meaning. After more than ten years Fraidy graduated from college, established a career, divorced her husband and, at the same time was abandoned by her family.
Today, Fraidy is a single Mom. Joined by other women with similar experiences, the group recently began Unchained at Last, the only U.S. organization dedicated to supporting women leaving arranged marriages. As we sat with Fraidy recently we could not help but be impressed. Fraidy knows first-hand exactly what these women are experiencing. She is a serious and passionate advocate on their behalf and the organization’s pro bono legal services, social services and advocacy are critically important.
The Good People Fund has committed not only funding to this fledgling effort but also has made numerous contacts that have brought even more support to the effort.