Abstract

Qualitative study explores the adjustment process of young Bedouin women in Israel who were minors and legally underage when they married. Child brides have always existed in Bedouin society, which sees marriage as a social and religious framework that protects the girl. This study's participants, 30 young women who were 13-17 when they married, shed light on the long and continuing process of adjustment, the sharp transitions in their lives, and their cognitive assimilation of married life. Their stories allow a glimpse of how a generation of young women within a traditional, strongly patriarchal society is starting to challenge accepted traditional practices. The case of Bedouin society may be relevant to other traditional societies, to indigenous peoples, and in general to the issue of child marriage that is so widespread globally. Child brides, a worldwide phenomenon, have always existed in Bedouin society, which sees marriage as a social and religious framework that protects the girl and her family from dishonor. Such marriages continue despite legal prohibition. This qualitative study in the phenomenological tradition explores the adjustment process of young Bedouin women in Israel who were legally underage when they married. The participants, 30 young women who married at ages 13-17, were recruited from the case loads of social workers in southern Israel. Data were obtained through in-depth semistructured interviews. The data shed light on the women's long and continuing process of adjustment, the sharp transitions in their lives, and their cognitive assimilation of married life and motherhood. Optimism that everything will work out and individual and family resilience are important factors, but the adjustment process is different for each of two groups of the participants: In one group, the girl met her prospective husband before marriage, was engaged for at least 6 months, and was prepared by her family for marriage and intimate relations. In the second group, the girl did not know the prospective husband, was engaged very briefly (up to 1 month), was not prepared for marriage, and was not asked for her opinion or consent. For the second group, the adjustment process was longer and more difficult. The stories of both groups reveal how a generation of young women within a traditional, strongly patriarchal society is starting to challenge traditional practices, including the husband's dependence on his family and the mother-in-law's interference, although ultimately they conform to their society's norms. Social services need to be aware of the processes these young women are undergoing and to build suitable intervention programs for them, their spouses, and their families. Also needed is a program that will explain to girls and their families the implications of marriage at a young age. The case of Bedouin society may be relevant to other traditional societies, to indigenous peoples, and to the global issue of child marriage. This article contributes to global knowledge by presenting the world of these young women, members of a society that is undergoing powerful changes that have weakened the traditional establishment but that still clings to such values as honor and male supremacy.


Authors

Allassad Alhuzai, Nuzha

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  • pre-publication peer review (FINAL ROUND)
    Decision Letter
    2020/05/05

    05-May-2020

    Dear Dr. Allassad Alhuzail,

    It is a pleasure to accept your manuscript entitled "The Adjustment Process of Young Bedouin Women Who Were Child Brides" for publication in Journal of Community Psychology. Please note although the manuscript is accepted the files will now be checked to ensure that everything is ready for publication, and you may be contacted if final versions of files for publication are required.

    The comments of the referee(s) who reviewed your manuscript are included at the bottom of this letter.

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    Thank you for your fine contribution.

    Sincerely,

    Michael B. Blank, PhD
    Editor, Journal of Community Psychology
    mblank2@upenn.edu

    Referee(s)' Comments to Author:

    The revision was responsive to the prior review.

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    Author Response
    2020/05/03

    Dear Dr. Blank,
    Thank you for the helpful suggestions of the referee. I have made the requested changes and below is a point-by-point response to the referee’s comments. The referee’s comments appear in italics and my responses appear in roman font with bold face to separate sections. I have also corrected some minor errors in the article. All the changes have been made in track changes. I hope that my article is now suitable for publication in your journal.
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Nuzha Allassad Alhuzail
    1) This article delineates very vividly the challenges faced by child brides in a strictly traditional society, on their moving to their husband's home. However, the article does not concentrate enough on the process of their adjustment to their new social status. The young bride has to learn to behave according to the prescribed traditional modes of behavior, whether she accepts them or not. She has to realize that these behaviors will grant her a social status of a good married woman. Resilience theory tells us that such psychological adjustment is likely to occur eventually.
    On p. 6 I have added the following:
    The term “emotional resilience” refers to the ability to cope with crisis situations and passages and to adapt to the conditions they create. Such resilience develops through a dynamic process and expresses a combination of the degree of exposure to distress and defensive processes (Masten & Wright, 2010).
    Humanist psychology sees human behavior as motivated, inter alia, by the need for self-realization, development of areas of strength, and the ability and aspiration for development and growth (Seligman, 2002). Bedouin society ascribes great importance to the family and to marriage, and married couples are viewed with honor and esteem. Thus, being a married woman is a form of self-realization (Author’s own, 2020).
    “Family resilience” refers to the ability to bounce back from difficulties stronger and with greater resources. It is not just a matter of overcoming stressful circumstances but rather of making use of the experience for meaningful growth of the individual and in the familial relationships (Walsh, 2003).
    Family resilience involves three key processes: belief systems that include making meaning of adversity, a positive outlook, and transcendence and spirituality. It also involves clear communication, shared problem-solving, and free expression of emotions (Walsh, 2003). According to Masten & Monn (2015), family resilience is also a function of the quality of the relationship between the children and the parents.
    The summary paragraph on p. 16 now begins thus: To summarize, evidence for the young women’s adjustment to the husband can be seen in their mobilization of their personal resources and their resilience, their acceptance of the husband, their resignation to their fate, their remaining with the husband, and their having sexual relations with the husband despite their fear and lack of information. Moreover, they have accepted the social norms of Bedouin society and have not rebelled against them.
    On p. 19, the discussion concerning Ruan begins thus:
    Ruan was married at 16. After her marriage she continued her studies. As her words show, she is trying to mobilize the resources that are part of her individual resilience and to reproduce the economic patterns of her parents’ home in her husband’s home, but this is not possible.
    On page 20, at the end of the discussion of Ria, I have added the following:
    The elements of personal and family resilience that have helped her adjust are clearly evident.
    On page 21, the discussion of Alia concludes with the following:
    This internalization causes the young bride to behave like a “good woman” in accordance with Bedouin society’s definition. Acceptance of the role of a woman is a key factor in the process of adjustment. Also evident is how family resilience plays a role in the young women’s adjustment.
    On p. 27, the summary begins with the following:
    To summarize, individual and familial resilience were an important factor in the adjustment of the young Bedouin women. They succeeded in negotiating the various passages—marital life, the new family, and the new roles—thanks to their ability to mobilize their individual and family resources, their willingness to seek and accept help, belief in their own abilities, optimism, perseverance, acceptance and resignation, and their striving for personal and financial independence.
    2) Furthermore, the author should state clearly that the challenges faced by child brides are faced by any young bride in this society. The complaints of the investigated sample will characterize as well older Bedouin brides, who marry without a proper preparation for marriage life.
    In the first paragraph of the discussion I have added the following sentence:
    In truth, even Bedouin brides who are of age are often equally ill-prepared for marriage and motherhood and face similar challenges.
    3) The abstract should summarize more clearly the article.
    I have revised the abstract so that it summarizes the article more clearly. Please see the revised abstract.
    4) Addressing the welfare authorities would better be removed to the conclusion section.
    I have moved to the Conclusion section the words addressed to the welfare authorities:
    These ramifications obligate the social services to be aware of the processes these young women are undergoing and to build suitable intervention programs for them, their spouses, and their families. Also needed is a program that will explain to girls and their families the implications of marriage at a young age.

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  • pre-publication peer review (ROUND 2)
    Decision Letter
    2020/04/27

    27-Apr-2020

    Dear Dr. Allassad Alhuzail,

    Manuscript ID JCOP-20-052.R1 entitled "The Adjustment Process of Young Bedouin Women Who Were Child Brides" which you submitted to Journal of Community Psychology, has been reviewed. The comments of the referee(s) are included at the bottom of this letter.

    The referee(s) have recommended publication, but also suggest some minor revisions to your manuscript. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the referee(s)' comments and revise your manuscript.

    You can upload your revised manuscript and submit it through your Author Center. Log into https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jcop and enter your Author Center, where you will find your manuscript title listed under "Manuscripts with Decisions".

    Please be sure to format your revised manuscript according to the journal guidelines for authors at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/page/journal/15206629/homepage/forauthors.html

    When submitting your revised manuscript, please include a tracked-changes version of the text document as well as a point-by-point response to each reviewers’ comments as a separate document (please select File for Review but NOT for Publication as the file designation).

    IMPORTANT: We have your original files. When submitting (uploading) your revised manuscript, please delete the file(s) that you wish to replace and then upload the revised file(s).

    Please submit the revised manuscript by 26-Jul-2020. You may contact the editorial office at jcopeditorial@wiley.com for any questions or concerns regarding revision due date extension.

    If you would like help with English language editing, or other article preparation support, Wiley Editing Services offers expert help with English Language Editing, as well as translation, manuscript formatting, and figure formatting at www.wileyauthors.com/eeo/preparation. You can also check out our resources for Preparing Your Article for general guidance about writing and preparing your manuscript at www.wileyauthors.com/eeo/prepresources.

    Once again, thank you for submitting your manuscript to Journal of Community Psychology. I look forward to receiving your revision.

    Sincerely,

    Michael B. Blank, PhD
    Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Community Psychology
    mblank2@upenn.edu

    Action Editor Comments to Author:

    Action Editor: Blank, Michael
    Comments to the Author:
    (There are no comments.)

    Referee(s)' Comments to Author:

    Reviewing: 1

    Comments to the Author
    This article delineates very vividly the challenges faced by child brides in a strictly traditional society, on their moving to their husband's home. However, the article does not concentrate enough on the process of their adjustment to their new social status. The young bride has to learn to behave according to the prescribed traditional modes of behavior, whether she accepts them or not. She has to realize that these behaviors will grant her a social status of a good married woman. Resilience theory tells us that such psychological adjustment is likely to occur eventually. Furthermore, the author should state clearly that the challenges faced by child brides are faced by any young bride in this society. The complaints of the investigated sample will characterize as well older Bedouin brides, who marry without a proper preparation for marriage life.
    The abstract should summarize more clearly the article. Addressing the welfare authorities would better be removed to the conclusion section.

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    Reviewer report
    2020/04/27

    This article delineates very vividly the challenges faced by child brides in a strictly traditional society, on their moving to their husband's home. However, the article does not concentrate enough on the process of their adjustment to their new social status. The young bride has to learn to behave according to the prescribed traditional modes of behavior, whether she accepts them or not. She has to realize that these behaviors will grant her a social status of a good married woman. Resilience theory tells us that such psychological adjustment is likely to occur eventually. Furthermore, the author should state clearly that the challenges faced by child brides are faced by any young bride in this society. The complaints of the investigated sample will characterize as well older Bedouin brides, who marry without a proper preparation for marriage life.
    The abstract should summarize more clearly the article. Addressing the welfare authorities would better be removed to the conclusion section.

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    Author Response
    2020/03/29

    March 29, 2020
    To the reviewer:
    Thank you for your comments on my article on Bedouin child brides.
    Following each finding I have added how the young women adjusted.
    I have expanded the quotations to include material showing the young women’s strategies for adjustment.
    In the Findings section I have added a summary of the main aspects of the adjustment strategies.
    In the Discussion section I discuss in detail how the young women have adjusted.
    The changes are highlighted in blue.
    The sentence on daydreaming p. 6, l. 35. should be erased- done
    p. 6. l. 32 reasons should be changed into results- done
    p. 8, l. 3-4 each checking on the other - there is only one author. Yes only one, corrected it.
    Sincerely,

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  • pre-publication peer review (ROUND 1)
    Decision Letter
    2020/03/20

    20-Mar-2020

    Dear Dr. Allassad Alhuzail,

    Manuscript ID JCOP-20-052 entitled "The Adjustment Process of Young Bedouin Women Who Were Child Brides" which you submitted to Journal of Community Psychology, has been reviewed. The comments of the referee(s) are included at the bottom of this letter.

    The referee(s) have recommended publication, but also suggest some minor revisions to your manuscript. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the referee(s)' comments and revise your manuscript.

    You can upload your revised manuscript and submit it through your Author Center. Log into https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jcop and enter your Author Center, where you will find your manuscript title listed under "Manuscripts with Decisions".

    Please be sure to format your revised manuscript according to the journal guidelines for authors at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/page/journal/15206629/homepage/forauthors.html

    When submitting your revised manuscript, please include a tracked-changes version of the text document as well as a point-by-point response to each reviewers’ comments as a separate document (please select File for Review but NOT for Publication as the file designation).

    IMPORTANT: We have your original files. When submitting (uploading) your revised manuscript, please delete the file(s) that you wish to replace and then upload the revised file(s).

    Please submit the revised manuscript by 18-Jun-2020. You may contact the editorial office at jcopeditorial@wiley.com for any questions or concerns regarding revision due date extension.

    If you would like help with English language editing, or other article preparation support, Wiley Editing Services offers expert help with English Language Editing, as well as translation, manuscript formatting, and figure formatting at www.wileyauthors.com/eeo/preparation. You can also check out our resources for Preparing Your Article for general guidance about writing and preparing your manuscript at www.wileyauthors.com/eeo/prepresources.

    Once again, thank you for submitting your manuscript to Journal of Community Psychology. I look forward to receiving your revision.

    Sincerely,

    Michael B. Blank, PhD
    Editor, Journal of Community Psychology
    mblank2@upenn.edu

    Action Editor Comments to Author:

    Referee(s)' Comments to Author:

    Reviewing: 1

    Comments to the Author
    This is a very interesting anthropological study that offers a perspective on the lives of young Bedouin women who married at a young age and shows the ramifications of the transitions in their lives. However, it does not explain how they get adjusted to this transition in their lives, as is stated in the article's name. There is no new message in the fact that people adjust eventually to any potential traumatic circumstances.

    This study should be published only if the Journal of Community Psychology is ready to accept a description of the various aspects of the process of getting used to marriage life of this special group of Bedouin women.

    The sentence on daydreaming p. 6, l. 35. should be erased.
    p. 6. l. 32 reasons should be changed into results.
    p. 8, l. 3-4 each checking on the other - there is only one author.

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    Reviewer report
    2020/03/13

    This is a very interesting anthropological study that offers a perspective on the lives of young Bedouin women who married at a young age and shows the ramifications of the transitions in their lives. However, it does not explain how they get adjusted to this transition in their lives, as is stated in the article's name. There is no new message in the fact that people adjust eventually to any potential traumatic circumstances.

    This study should be published only if the Journal of Community Psychology is ready to accept a description of the various aspects of the process of getting used to marriage life of this special group of Bedouin women.

    The sentence on daydreaming p. 6, l. 35. should be erased.
    p. 6. l. 32 reasons should be changed into results.
    p. 8, l. 3-4 each checking on the other - there is only one author.

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