A new study on forced marriages in Germany has some disturbing findings: 30,000 such cases may exist and 30% of the girls were younger than 18. The youngest victim was nine years old.
The first ever study on forced marriages in Germany found as many as 30,000 cases, including a particularly high number of teenaged female victims, many of whom were threatened with violence.
Most girls and women in the study were from immigrant families, although approximately one-third were born in Germany. Of those born abroad, most had lived in Germany for five or more years. Turkey was the country of origin of 23% of cases, while 8% of the brides came from the Balkans (Serbia, Kosovo or Montenegro), and 6% from Iraq, according to the study commissioned by Germany's Minister of Families Kristina Schröder.
Roughly 30% were girls 17 years of age or younger when they were either forced to marry or when the subject was broached to them by their family. Nearly a third (27%) were threatened with a weapon or with death if they did not agree to go through with the marriage.
Munich sociologist Aydin Findikci estimates the total number of forced marriage cases in Germany to be 30,000 but arriving at an exact figure is difficult -- especially as it may sometimes be hard to distinguish between a forced marriage and an arranged one. Many forced marriages only come to light when some crime is connected to them, or when the young women or girls find the courage to seek help outside the family.
One-third of women and girls in the study sought help on their own. Another third were persuaded by friends, and the remaining third were put in touch by teachers or social workers. When they took part in the study, 40% were between the ages of 18 and 21, but 30% were minors. The youngest was nine years old, the oldest 55. The research concluded that 71% had not yet been married when they sought help.
The study showed that the better the girl spoke German and the better educated she was, the more likely she was to seek help. Those who had already been married had a considerably lower level of education. The study was conducted during 2009 and 2010 – 1,445 counseling services around the country were asked to participate, of which 830 signed on.
Read the full story in German by Miriam Hollstein
Photo - Michael Panse
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