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Tahirih’s report summarizes the conversations and perspectives that advocates shared during the consultation regarding the question of forced marriage criminalization in the U.S.

The Tahirih Justice Center’s Forced Marriage Initiative has released a summary report of the national consultation on the question of forced marriage criminalization in the United States convened in June 2016 in Washington, DC. The meeting was organized by Tahirih’s Forced Marriage Initiative and brought together 30 participants from across the country, including members of the Forced Marriage Working Group (FMWG), a core group of advocates that was founded by Tahirih in 2011, as well as allied professionals, experts, and survivors.

At the foundation of this consultation was the understanding that forced marriage is a form of family violence. However, research and debate is ongoing in the United States as to what extent, and in what circumstances, a criminal approach to family violence actually reduces violence.

The purpose of this consultation was not to function as a focus group to test out possible criminalization positions or a consensus building exercise driving towards a joint position. Instead, we aimed to create a safe space for open and honest dialogue where a robust conversation – not a final or definitive exchange on the criminalization question – could be had. In fact, we anticipated that this convening would likely raise more questions than answers while providing a valuable opportunity for advocates, experts, and survivors to strengthen relationships and build trust with one another.

To learn more about the issues raised and diverse perspectives shared during this consultation, read Tahirih’s consultation summary report on the question of forced marriage criminalization in the United States. The Forced Marriage Initiative is eager to build on the discussions that began at this first meeting by convening future consultations with the aim of placing those most deeply invested in and impacted by forced marriage at the center of the conversation around policy solutions.