Forced marriage is when one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage, and pressure is involved. Pressure can be physical, emotional, financial, or sexual coercion or threats by the family and/or community. There can be serious legal consequences with forced marriage.
Examples of situations that demonstrate a lack of consent, include:
- Being subject to coercion such as: emotional blackmail, social ostracism, economic threats
- Subject to force, such as: isolation tactics, kidnapping, physical threats
Families are not always aware that they are placing excessive pressure on their child to get married. In other words, they do not realize that they are “forcing” their children to marry someone they do not wish to be married to. While the parents and community may have good intentions, a forced marriage often has devastating consequences on all parties involved.
Forced marriages can occur for several reasons:
- provides stability and secures future of the child
- strengthens family links
- protects family honour
- enhances the family’s economic status
- reinforces conservative gender roles that see women as submissive
- controls the child’s unwanted behaviour and prevents unsuitable relationships
- assists residence and citizenship claims
None of these are valid, because there is NO valid reason to force someone to marry!
If it can be shown a marriage was forced, it is not legally valid. In other words, for a marriage to be legal, it is necessary to have the free and full consent of BOTH spouses. There can be criminal consequences depending on how the person was coerced into getting married.
Forced marriage is when one or both persons do not consent to the marriage, and pressure is involved. Pressure can be physical, emotional, financial, or sexual coercion by the family and/or community.
Arranged marriage is when the family finds a potential spouse for their child. Their child still has the choice to refuse to marry at any point.
If you are considering an arranged marriage, ensure that the same fundamental values, aspirations, and expectations are shared with your potential spouse. Marriage is a life-long commitment; make sure that you’re compatible.
Most forced marriages are targeted at women around the age of 16 years old, but anyone ,including men, can be vulnerable. UNICEF estimates that there are 60 million forced marriages in the world every year.
Be aware that some forced marriages are arranged when the child is still quite young. You may not know that your parents have been planning a marriage for quite some time.
To learn more: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/girls-voices
Forced marriages can lead to long term abuse such as:
- physical and emotional violence, and marital rape
- decreased levels of education, if your husband or his family prevents you from continuing your studies
- health complications, from excessive stress, emotional trauma, or physical abuse
- life of submission and dependence