Forced Marriage Initiative
Marriage should be a choice.
But across the nation, women and girls are pressured, forced, and/or manipulated into marrying partners they have not chosen. Just as alarming – the United States is lagging behind other nations in responding to this human rights violation.
Tahirih’s Forced Marriage Initative, launched in 2011, is a national program working to stop forced marriages from occurring in the United States.
Tahirih staff are available to provide confidential support and assistance to individuals in the United States who are facing forced marriages either in this country or abroad, as well as technical assistance to advocates, attorneys, teachers, and government agencies working on such cases.
To contact us, please email FMI@tahirih.org or call 571-282-6161 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday.
An Acute Problem
The Forced Marriage Initiative fosters a comprehensive, national response to the pervasive problem of forced marriage. In 2011, respondents from across 47 states helped Tahirih document as many as 3,000 known or suspected cases of forced marriage in the prior two years through our Forced Marriage Survey, one of the earliest attempts to quantify the extent of forced marriage in the United States.
WHAT IS FORCED MARRIAGE?
A forced marriage takes place without the full and free consent of one or both parties. Forced marriages can happen to individuals of either gender at any age, and of any ethnic or religious background. A forced marriage may be one that is threatened, or one that has already taken place, either in the United States or abroad.
The reasons behind forced marriages in the United States are complex and varied. Some parents may feel that a marriage is necessary to honor culture or tradition or to uphold a prior agreement between families, or that it is for the best interest of their child. In other situations, families may force marriage to prevent a daughter from engaging in unwanted behavior or to gain economic security.
Whatever the rationale, the result may subject a woman or girl to severe and sustained harm, including psychological and emotional abuse, domestic violence, and rape, among other harms.
Our research indicates that service providers, government agencies and community advocates lack resources to effectively identify immigrant women and girls at risk for forced marriage and act as advocates on their behalf. We want to change that.
A Call to Action
Overview of Our Forced Marriage Initiative and National Forced Marriage Survey
2011 Tahirih Justice Center National Forced Marriage Survey
2013 National Sign-On Letter with Recommendations to the Department of State
U.S. Department of State Forced Marriage Prevention Resources
The Right to Choose: Multi-Agency Statutory Guidance for Dealing with Forced Marriage (UK)
Criminal Laws Addressing Forced Marriage in the United States
Tahirih is building a National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage — a coalition of advocates and allies dedicated to creating a coordinated, national response to the problem of forced marriage in the United States.
Through this platform, we conduct regular Web-based and in-person trainings for government agencies, service providers, and community advocates to identify and assist individuals who may be vulnerable to forced marriage, and speak at high schools and community centers to raise awareness of this hidden issue.
Stay tuned for our soon-to-be launched Forced Marriage Initiative website! Coming in winter 2014.