Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is defined as a marriage in which one or both partners do not or cannot consent to this marriage. Forced marriage thereby derives from severe psychological pressure or physical abuse to force two people into marriage. In Germany, forced marriage is understood as serious coercion and is liable to prosecution since 19.02.2005.

Forced marriage violates the right to free marriage as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the United Nations in 1948 (Article 16, Paragraph 2). Similarly, the right to free marriage manifests itself in the German Constitution (Article 6, Paragraph 1). Forced marriage entails extensive consequences as victims are severely restricted in their personal development and their life opportunities. Additionally, forced marriage exposes victims to severe mental stress. When one of the partners is still minor, according to the UN-Convention on the rights of the child, forced marriage violates various human rights, as the child hast to be heard on this important issue and should be protected against sexual abuse.

Arranged marriage is a lived tradition in many countries all over the world. Parents search for suitable partners in marriage for their children, sometimes engaging match makers. If individuals consent to the match, giving their approval to their suiter, arranged marriage must not necessarily constitute forced marriage. In reality, the concerned parties are not always consulted regarding the decision for or against possible suitors. The rejection of a potential match is often not tolerated by their parents. Sometimes, girls are too young to make autonomous decisions. The boundaries to forced marriage are elusive.

JADWIGA helps women and girls, sometimes men, suffering from family conflict, dreading an arranged marriage. We also counsel women who were brought to Germany through forced marriage and find themselves in need of help.

Together, we establish the next steps to take. We offer practical instructions and tangible help. In case of acute danger, we provide option of protection or means of escape. To secure the best possible security, it might be necessary to cooperate with local authorities, the police, youth welfare offices and aid organizations. This corporation occurs only in agreement with the concerned individuals. Oftentimes, trans-regional cooperation is indispensable for reasons of security. Our counselling is free of charge and can be conducted anonymously, but we are also bound to keep privacy.