Arranged! New Board Game That Unmasks The Darkness Of Arranged Marriages

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – What’s the difference between an arranged and a forced marriage? Well, the difference is based on consent and coercion. In an arranged marriage, both the bride and the groom consent to have their marriage arranged (with varying degrees of choice about when and whom to wed). In a forced marriage, one or both of them is coerced into the marriage and there’s no free, informed consent. There’s a fine line between consent and coercion, as even when a marriage is labeled “arranged” and the bride and groom get the option to say no, they may face pressure from their families and society not to do so, or they might even be too young and inexperienced to make such a big decision. Now, a new board game that can be found on Kickstarter called Arranged! Allows players to confront the struggles of an arranged marriage.

The culture of arranged marriages is prevalent in South-Asian societies. Many girls are forced or emotionally blackmailed into marrying someone their family chooses for them. Their husband is usually chosen on the basis of his wealth and social status, or sometimes, even as a business deal. The woman’s role in these types of marriages is just as superficial. They have to present themselves as being the perfect bride at all times, which leads to using things such as skin whitening creams and diet pills. Most of these women cannot fight against the culture because they aren't educated enough to be able to provide for themselves. 

Arranged! unmasks the darkness of this topic, and provides a platform for people to be able to discuss these issues by playing a game. Using her own experience and story, Pakistani designer, Nashra Balagamwala created Arranged!, a game that includes a matchmaker trying to get the teenage girls married off to any and every boy she can find while they try to run away from her and a loveless marriage.

The entire game will be printed and manufactured in Pakistan to support small businesses. If the project reaches $9,000 on Kickstarter, Balagamwala will donate a percentage of the proceeds towards educating girls in Pakistan, to help them escape an arranged marriage. 

Balagamwala says, “I'm doing this for all the women out there in abusive and loveless marriages. For the women who were forced into marrying a man twice their age. Although a game cannot change the world, I am hopeful that by discussing the problems these societies face, they might start to realise how flawed these norms are and eventually work towards fixing it.”

Balagamwala studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. Since graduating last year, she has worked at Hasbro, which makes Monopoly and Jenga. There is hope that this game will empower women and help them avoid their own arranged marriages and give them the confidence to speak up.

The goal here is to spark a conversation around arranged marriages and for people from South Asian communities to start talking about this issue. 

Photo Credit: Nashra Balagamwala