‘Muslim model, 24, is found hanged after fearing she was going to be forced into arranged marriage by her parents’
‘The Hasidic woman … [who] killed herself suffered years of depression following her forced marriage to a first cousin’
These are just a few of the headlines from the media last month. The message is clear, these women who were forced into marriage or feared being forced into a marriage felt so helpless in their situation that they took their lives. The tragic reality is these women who made the headlines following their ordeal are only signs of a larger problem: the trauma women face due to forced marriage.
Forced marriage is extremely damaging to the victim and affects their whole life. Many times as can be observed in the newspaper articles the forced marriage cases that get most attention from media are ones where suicide or honour-based violence such as murder is involved. Sometimes families will even falsely use religion as justification for a forced marriage. JAN Trust has been educating and supporting families and victims of forced marriage for more than 25 years. There have been dozes of cases where misinformed parents have forced their daughter into a forced marriage. For instance, Zarina who regrets her actions now talks about how she forced her daughter into a marriage to continue tradition. Along with forcing her daughter to marry, Zarina says she used physical violence and emotional pressure towards her daughter. It was JAN Trust that changed Zarina’s mind and supported her and her family through the trauma of a forced marriage. The director of JAN Trust, Sajda Mughal, explains the ethos of JAN Trust’s approach to cases of forced marriage that come their way as, “We educate the perpetrators, try and change their misguided mind-sets. If we are successful, they then become our ambassadors in the community.”
The damaging aspects of forced marriage do not only happen prior to the marriage but after also when the marriage does go through due to cultural and family pressures. Cases of forced marriage are coupled with domestic violence and rape which makes the job charities and organizations dealing with victims of forced marriage, like JAN Trust, difficult as they have to work with the Police which might frighten a lot of victims. Additionally, services provided to these women have to be quite lengthy as many times the women have become dependent on their husbands and families. This is why the work of JAN Trust is crucial for victims of forced marriage as it provides skills based and language classes for women to help gain their independency and integrate into society more successfully.
However, JAN Trust does not only deal with victims of forced marriage post-marriage, the charity also goes to dozens of schools to give workshops to girls on how to avoid forced marriage and who to ask for help when they might be forced into one. Education is key because many women who are forced into marriages are not aware of their rights or where they can access support. JAN Trust’s community based approach helps women maintain ties with their family and community when they reject a forced marriage as being ousted from their community is another trauma within itself for women.
To support JAN Trust’s campaign against forced marriage please visit our website.