Infos about forced marriage

What does forced marriage mean?

We talk about forced marriage, if your parents or your family decide who you have to marry, you, however, do not want to marry the selected partner at all. With forced marriage, nobody asks you about your intention, whether you want to marry at all and particularly who you love.

If you do not want to marry, you did not agree with a marriage, you are browbeaten and feel like being forced, then it is a forced marriage.

You have the right to decide freely, if and who you wish to marry! Love and marriage must not be forced! A forced marriage has nothing to do with religion!

If you are not willing to marry, maybe your family will exert pressure on you. They will try to urge you to marry. There are different forms of pressure, such as:

  • Parents, brothers or sisters or other relatives blame you that you family will lose their honour
  • Blackmail (remaining silent, ignoring, no longer talking to each other, curfew, ban on contact, no pocket money)
  • Insulting you
  • Threats to take you to the home country of your parents
  • Physical and/ or sexualized violence (threatening to hit you, hit or mistreat you).

Forced marriage or arranged marriage?


It is not always simple and possible to clearly differ between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. A decisive criteria is, whether any pressure is exerted on you, and if you have the chance to say ‘no’. It depends on your personal evaluation, whether there is a forced marriage or not and what is to be considered as a constraint.

So you may feel a certain constraint, while your parents are considering their behaviour as ‚soft pressure’. There are girls and boys accepting the person chosen by their parents as their spouse who however have the final say themselves with the decision. Forced marriage means that the marriage is celebrated against the will of the bride or groom. Lot of pressure is exerted on you, and a refusal may have bad consequences for you.

What happens to me?

ake any hint absolutely serious! Quite often, it happens that marriage plans are announced beforehand. Before such plans are realised, you may benefit from our assistance!

Maybe you realise strange situations, not knowing how to behave. Your parents and relatives compliment you much more often than they did in the past, such as e.g. that you have become a woman and reached the marriageable age.

Sometimes, parents are afraid of losing their honour. When the daughter is old enough to marry, she, however, is not prepared to do so. Eventually, she has got a boy-friend who is not accepted by her parents. As a consequence, many families are afraid that such a girl will lose her virginity.

Sometimes, parents are afraid that their daughter could lose respect toward them; they want to keep influencing their daughter. If, for instance, their daughter has got a boy-friend from another culture or religion, the parents are afraid that their daughter will be influenced in a negative way and might become addicted to a decadent western lifestyle.

tl_files/zwangsheirat/images/klein/u7_150.jpgBy means of a quick marriage they want their daughter to respect her father and his authority, in order to strengthen the traditional attachments. By means of a quick marriage their daughter shall be lead to the right path again.

You, however, want to live another life. Maybe you want to marry one day, but maybe not now, and not a man who you do not know; particularly not a man with whom you are not in love with!

Emotional Outburst

Your mother was very important to you. She used to act as a mediator between you and your father when important decisions had to be taken. Sometimes, she even protected you against your father, as she did not tell him everything that had happened.

Maybe you feel disappointed and upset now because of your mother, when your father announces solemnly that he has chosen a man for you who you are about to marry soon – and your mother behaves in a passive way, i.e. helpless, not being able to cope with the situation.


She tells you that Mum and Dad have always wanted the best for you and that it is usual that they chose a man for you. She does not understand you and does not want to understand you. She even dismisses you. You know that the opinions of relatives and neighbours have always been very important to your mother, in this situation, however, you expect her to support you.

Instaed,you feel browbesten by your mother and father. They want you to marry and urge you, maybe even using violence by e.g. ignoring, blaming, hitting or threatening you.

You think

  • ‘It is too late now; nobody can help me any more. There is no way out any more’.
  • that you must be ashamed that something like that has happened to you and that your own parents are doing that to you
  • that it would be better to forget about all that and not to think of it any more
  • that you betray your own tradition. You do not want that your parents appear in a bad light
  • that you are outcasted and condemned by your family – those people you love. You do not want to be treated as an underdog but wish to continue your previous life; you wish to live a normal life, so to speak
  • that you are left alone
  • that you are not encouraged enough to stand all that trouble
  • that nobody accepts you saying ‘no’ and that nobody respects you.

"I indeed was bothered by the fact that my parents were angry with me or that people talked about me. However, it was quite clear to me that I have to be egoistic now, to become happy in the end. I did not have to make my parents happy or him." (Source: ‘Urged to marriage’, a report of Behare, 22 years old, divorced, in: ‘Forced marriage. Life long for honour", Terre des Femmes e.V., 2006)

Nobody has the right to force you to a marriage! You yourself have the right to decide, if and who you wish to marry! Forced marriage is forbidden by each religion!


Consequences of Forced Marriage

Maybe you have plans and ideas for your future you will no longer be able to practise with a forced marriage. School and education are very important to you, for instance. Maybe school and education are important to you. If so, after your marriage, however, you will be expected to discontinue everything, leading to the fact that you will hardly have the possibility – neither now, nor later – to earn some money independently. As a consequence, you will become even more dependent on your husband and his family.

tl_files/zwangsheirat/images/klein/infos_01.jpgMaybe you like the idea of moving to your own flat after your marriage and trust that you will be released from any rules and duties in your parents’ house, then. Maybe you are even promised a lot. Often, however, you have to cope with new rules and expectations again after your marriage – those of your husband and his family. They expect you to obey them. Maybe, you will not be allowed to meet your girl-friends any more or to leave the house. Even the education of your future children will be taken over by others in the worst case

When you are married, you may be expected to have sex with your husband. If you are not able to do so and/ or you do not want to do so, as you do not love him, he might try to force you to do so using violence. Such experiences may stress you very much – even that much that you will hardly stand the daily fear.

All that may lead to the consequence that you feel being left alone and helpless. Your mother, siblings, or any other people you trust, are no longer to help or protect you as they should as they do not want to take a hand in your marriage. They think your husband has the right to behave in a way he deems to be the best.

Then, many girls become more and more silent, sad and depressive. They often fall ill, get a headache or pain in the stomach. Due to their grief, some girls eat a lot or nothing at all or even hurt themselves. Some girls are so unhappy that they even think of suicide as the only way out.