For most young women in the free world, know they have the absolute right to choose their own partner, the only danger being that the marriage could end up in divorce. Yet for millions of women who live in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East, the right to choose their own partner is not only a highly dangerous alternative, but it could threaten their lives. For these women the word ‘No’ is not an option. There are also instances where men are coerced into a forced marriage. This global horror of forced marriages, imposed by families, for the most part is grossly unreported.
It was revealed in a recent survey in England that around 3000 women are victims of forced marriages, in Britain alone. Once married these women have little or no rights.
Three girls were taken into the desert by Umrani tribesmen. They were punished and buried alive, as a deterrent for anyone else attempting to get married through their own choice.
The girls were grabbed at gun point, in the remote village of Bab Kot, by six men. They were then forced into a Land Cruiser jeep, that had the number plate of the Balochistan government. Taken to a field, they were beaten, shot and flung into a ditch. When the mother and aunty of the girls objected and tried to call a halt to the treatment, the two older women were also thrown into the ditch. Badly injured, the five women were buried alive and covered with mud and rocks, in what the relatives claimed to be ‘honour killings’.
The victim’s graves have not yet been found and very few of these murderers are apprehended or convicted.
It is believed hundreds of women are killed by male relatives every year, throughout Pakistan, for taking the bold step of trying to resolve their own future. In 2005 it is reported that 174 women were victims, 270 in 2006 and 280 in 2007. The figure stood at 107 in just the first five months of 2008.
Bangladesh Doctor Held Captive
A British trained doctor, Humayra Abedin, aged 32, who has been a resident in Britain for the past six years, was held captive by her family, in an effort to force her to go through with a marriage to a complete stranger. Humaya returned to Bangladesh when her family said her mother was gravely ill. Manhandled on her arrival and her travel documents and credit cards taken from her, Humayra was locked in a room and constantly looked over by four or five guards. Injected with what she believed were mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic drugs, Humayra was forced against her will, to go through the procedure of a marriage ceremony.
Humayra came under the ruling of the recent Forced Marriage Act, as she was a resident of Britain. A sympathetic Bangladesh court ruled that Humayra was being held against her will and she should be set free. After four months in captivity, Humayra returned safely to Britain.
The British High Commission in Dhaka reports that it aided 56 forced marriage cases between the months of April 2007 and March 2008.
A Saudi Arabian girl, aged eight years, was married off by her father, to a 58 year-old man. The young girl could not apply to divorce her husband until she reached puberty, a judge ruled. The girl still resides with her mother and the estranged father set a verbal condition that the marriage would not be consummated until the child reached 18 years of age. However, there is absolutely no guarantee this will be honoured.
The number of how many pre-adolescents have been forced into arranged marriages is uncertain, but the number is thought to be considerable.
A 23 year old woman was shot three times in the head, by her brother, when she dared to divorce the man her parents had forced her to marry.
Girls as young as eight years of age are married off by their family, in India.
Education is having only limited success in breaking down these customs and traditions, as the victims are totally emotionally, socially and economically dependent on the family. It also needs legislation and most countries do not have a ruling on forced marriages.