By Luke Baker
LONDON (Reuters) - When "Sweetgal", a 29-year-old British Muslim from central England, began looking for a new husband last year, at first she didn't know where to turn.
The answer, it turned out, was on the Internet.
She'd been married once -- a union arranged by her parents -- to a man from Pakistan. It lasted seven years and produced children but broke down due to cultural differences and she didn't want to go through a similar trauma again.
At the same time, being a respectful Muslim who wears hijab, she wasn't going to start 'dating', and knew her parents would have to be involved in her new search in one way or another.
Over the past two years there has been a boom in the use of Web sites that introduce Muslim men and women, not for casual dating, but for those actively seeking traditional Muslim marriage.
Where once young British Muslims might have had a marriage arranged to a spouse from the country of their parents' origin -- perhaps Pakistan or Bangladesh -- it is now much more common for them to marry within the Muslim community in Britain.
This is a classic example of using technology to enrich our lives. Because of societal restrictions, “Sweetgal” was going to have a tough time finding a new husband. She has already gone the purely arranged route, with her first husband, and it failed. Now the ball is in her court. She has the ability, along with her parents, to seek out characteristics that she finds attractive. The site that she uses, singlemuslims.com, has over 100,000 users. So, finding a mate can still just be a click or two away. This seems to be a much more effective use of time. Traditionally, parents would arrange a match with friends or people that they just meet. This moves things along a bit more expeditiously.
In addition to Muslims, there are a huge number of sites that cater to other marriage-arranging cultures (i.e. Sikhs, Hindus, Tamils, etc.) Could these sites become a victim of their own success? Last Friday (April 27th) we mentioned that there is a growing “non-affiliated” presence on JDate. This same effect could carry over to other niche dating sites because everybody loves a winner.
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