Monday, August 25, 2014



Many of the 234 Borno schoolgirls in Boko Haram captivity have been ferried abroad to Chad and Cameroon after they were married off to sect members on N2,000 bride price each, an elder told Daily Trust yesterday.

The female students were taken from their hostels at the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok on the night of April 14.

About 40 had escaped in the days after the incident, but parents and school authorities said at least 234 of them were yet to be found.

Dr. Pogu Chibok, who is the leader of the Chibok Elders Forum, told Daily Trust yesterday that latest information available to them indicates that most of the girls have been taken to the neighboring Cameroon and Chad by their captors.

He said before they were ferried in canoes across the Lake Chad, a wedding ceremony was conducted at a town on the border with Cameroon where they were married off to Boko Haram militants.

He said N2,000 was paid as bride price on each of the girls to the specific Boko Haram members who took them from their school and who had assumed "ownership" of the students.

Read the rest: Abducted Nigerian Girls Married Off to Boko Haram Militants.  (h/t to Jihad Watch)   Update on this story here.

Poster for the film Salma

Pieces of paper tucked between the layers of folded piles of jewel-coloured saris flowed with poems describing her forced marriage and life behind locked doors. It was only when her mother smuggled the poems out in the laundry basket and sent them off to a publisher in Chennai that Salma's voice was heard.

Salma was trapped by her family and then, after agreeing to an arranged marriage, by her husband, locked away behind barred windows, unable to continue her education and forced to write her heartfelt words in secret.

This sounds like a brutal and ancient tradition but the practice continues to this day and the poet, 46, who is known all over India by just her first name, now devotes her time to campaigning for women's rights and education for young girls.

Her story is an incredible turn of events that saw her released from her home and elected village leader, going on to become the voice for other women imprisoned by the same fate.

Read the rest: Pakistani Poetess Locked Away by Family

More about the film Salma.


Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan (MSP) is issuing an appeal for action by releasing an investigative report detailing forced marriages and conversions of Christian girls and women in Pakistan.

The prevalence of forced conversion and marriage are difficult to accurately estimate due to reporting deficiencies and the complex nature of the crime. Estimates therefore range from 100 to 700 victim Christian girls every year (conservative estimates for Hindu girls are on the order of 300 per year).

MSP's investigations find that cases of forced marriages/conversions follow a distinctive pattern: Christian girls — usually between the ages of 12 and 25 — are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party.

Read the rest: Report on Forced Conversions to Islam and Forced Marriages   Read the full report  on forced marriages and forced conversions to Islam in Pakistan.

Cover of Muslim Girl magazine

Picture an American girl, a typical California teenager in jeans who lives on Facebook and likes sports. She loves her family, but feels pressure from them to resist peer influence. A typical family dynamic? So far.

Out of respect for father and family, this girl agrees to visit her parents' home country, the old world where her grandmother is aging and would love to see her granddaughter one more time.

This story is true, and I assure you it is not an aberration. Robbing a girl of her freedom and identity is becoming more and more common in the United States. Such crimes are committed not for money or personal obsession, but in the name of traditional religion and culture.

Forced marriage is linked to other acts committed in the name of religion and culture, so-called honor killings (perversely named!), and linked to the barbaric act of female genital mutilation—all three crimes commonly committed in the name of protecting honor and sanctioned by religion.

What worries me is that, within the American value system, there are two clashing strains—individual rights clashing with tolerance of others. I fear that, in the new battleground I've identified, individual rights of women are losing out to tolerance of oppressive customs.

Read the rest of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's article: Forced Marriages in the U.S.


Sahar  wished she could slap that Saudi sheikh, just like she had slapped taxi drivers asking her to provide them with young Syrian girls. But instead she just said "no" and told him that if he shows up at that mosque again she will cut his beard. Then she says she left, slamming the door. It wasn't just an accident, neither was it just one sheikh who asked her to serve as a matchmaker.

A few months later, another Saudi sheikh approached her at the mosque: He wanted a young Syrian girl to marry and he was wondering whether she could find him a bride, for a fee, of course. Sometimes she gets such proposals from taxi drivers. "Once, I was in a taxi and the driver approached me. There was this Lebanese sheikh who wanted to marry a Syrian girl. 'He will give you money, and he will also give that woman money,' he told me. I slapped him, as usual," she recalled.
[ . . . ]
But not many think like Sahar does. Young women get sold off for a week to men willing to pay. Taxi drivers ask around about young girls aged 16-17; deals are made in the streets of Tripoli. "I have refused to do this, but many people don't."

Some people make a business out of trafficking women for rich foreigners, says Ayman Hariri, a Syrian activist who settled in Akkar in 2011 when he had to flee Daraa fearing arrest. He used to run an NGO that provided aid for Syrian refugees, but he decided to close it down. Trying to provide aid is difficult, with some aid organizations using their small NGOs to sell 16-year-old girls to their Gulf sponsors in exchange for money.

"I can tell you about someone I know, I met him in person and he offered to bribe me. He posed as a sheikh with a Saudi benefactor. People soon found out his organization was actually what you call a whorehouse: He was getting girls for the Saudi sheikh. If he liked the girl, he would offer $10,000, he would marry her for a week, and then she would go back home with $1,000. The rest was given to the so-called Lebanese sheikh, who now owns a building and has several cars," Hariri explains.
[ . . . ]
Most NGOs that deal with women's rights in Lebanon are concerned by the increasing number of early marriages among Syrian refugees. According to UNHCR's refugee response plan, 10% of Syrian refugee women and Lebanese women in host communities have been exposed to gender-based violence, including early marriage, rape, and domestic violence. To cope with poverty, Syrian girls are married off very early, sometimes for money, sometimes for protection.

Read the rest: Syrian Girls Sold to Rich Muslims


A 14-year-old girl from a Muslim family became pregnant after being taken to Pakistan by her father and forced to marry a man ten years older than her in "harrowing" circumstances, a High Court judge has said.

Mr Justice Holman ruled the girl would have to initiate proceedings herself to have the marriage nullified, despite a request from local authority officials who wanted a "declaration of non-recognition" of the marriage. 

Her parents had emigrated from Pakistan to England and the girl's father became a UK citizen more than 30 years ago, he said.

The teenager, who was born in Britain, was subjected to violence and a gun was produced.

The marriage was consummated following further "threats" two weeks after the ceremony and the girl became pregnant, he added.

Read the rest: 14-year-old-girl in Britain pregnant from forced marriage in Pakistan.

Yemeni Child Bride

A 10-year old Yemeni child identified as Nejood Ali claims her family forced her to marry a 30-year old man.

The girl who appeared in the Lebanese TV channel LBC confirmed that she got married ten months ago when she was nine.

She said: "My father forced her to marry a person." She said she did not see her husband until the wedding day and that she was scared.

She said she tried to escape from her husband on the wedding night, but her husband's family beat her and they forced her to do house work.

Nejood says that one of her aunts helped her to go to a court to ask for a divorce.

She confirmed that a taxi driver helped her and took her to court. When she arrived at court she was scared and waited till the court closed, when the judge, on his way home, found her waiting in front of his door.

She said she told the judge her story and he sympathised with her case. The judge took her home and looked after her with his wife. She stayed in his house for three days where he later took her to court and issued the divorce judgment.

Read the rest: 10-year-old Yemeni Girl Plead with Judge to End Forced Marriage

According to Islamic doctrine, Nejood's marriage at nine is following the sunnah, Mohammed's words and deeds.

Man and woman's hands bound in chain with text: Forced

A forced marriage occurs when an individual is forced, coerced, threatened, or tricked to marry without her informed consent.

In many cultures, it is customary for families to arrange meetings between their children in the hopes of fostering a voluntary relationship that will lead to a marriage. In such situations, while the initial meetings are arranged by the families and a marriage is encouraged, the ultimate decision regarding whether to marry remains with the couple and the choice to marry is strictly voluntary. In contrast, in a forced marriage, an individual is threatened and/or coerced by her family to enter into the marriage against her will and may suffer honor violence if she resists or refuses the marriage.

Does this happen in the United States?

Yes. Although this is generally treated as a private family matter that remains hidden from public view, there are numerous reports of girls being taken out of school in the United States in their early teenage years and returned to their parents' home countries to be forcibly married. For example, in 2007, the New York Daily News reported that a number of girls were being forced to return to Pakistan to marry men chosen by their families. One woman recalled being tricked and drugged before being put on a plane to Pakistan and, once there, being forced at gunpoint to acquiesce to a marriage to a man chosen by her father.

The Tahirih Justice Center  released survey results in September of 2011 that found as many as 3,000 known or suspected cases of forced marriage within immigrant communities in the United States in the two years preceding the survey.  We believe the actual number of forced marriage cases in the United States to be much higher, as the survey was directed towards service providers and other professionals.  Many more existing cases are likely hidden from the view of officials.

The United Kingdom has set up a hotline specifically to handle cases of forced marriage.  In 2010, there were 1,735 cases of forced marriage reported to the hotline.  Of those victims, 131 were British citizens who were rescued after having been taken to Pakistan for marriage against their will.

Read the rest: Forced Marriage

Syrian woman wearing t-shirt with Syrian flag

It began with rumors of the Muslim Brotherhood's influence in Jordan and has spread across the Arab world. Syrian refugees, particularly those of the young and female variety, are becoming a commodity for Arab men, with many offering to marry those in need. 

But don't be fooled: this is not a purely altruistic gesture. Syrian women are known as the beauties of the region and having run away from the massacres of their own country they are left vulnerable and needy. Men who would otherwise have no chance with these highly sought after ladies have been opportunistically taking their chances.

Now the backlash has begun and Syrian activists have launched a campaign on social media networks calling for the marriage proposals to come to a halt. The campaign, established by Syrian activist Miznah Duraid, under the name 'Refugee Captives', aims to educate Syrian parents to stop them marrying off their daughters for the sake of a stable home.

Left in terrible financial circumstances, these refugees are also more likely to agree to a disagreeable marriage in exchange for a 'bride price' paid by the groom to the family. Duraid says he is not only blaming the Syrians for the situation and is also trying to educate Arab men about "the pitfalls of marrying a Syrian woman".
[ . . . ]
"It is also not guaranteed that the husband won't repeat his "helpfulness" by seeking marriage from another female refugee."

Others have pointed out that no other refugee crisis in the Arab world has had this effect on the Middle East's men. Moayad Eskeef is another Syrian campaigner keen to highlight the issue. Tongue-in-cheek he pointed out – if these men are so keen to marry a refugee why aren't there a deluge of Sudanese-Arab marriages.

Read the rest: Women in Syria Who Are Refugees Sought by Arab Men.  (h/t to the The Religion of Peace blog)

Map of Bangladesh

A judge has said the forced marriage of a Muslim woman with learning difficulties should be annulled and condemned the "insulated" families who arrange them.

Mrs Justice Parker also criticised doctors and social workers for failing to raise the alarm when the woman was sent to Bangladesh to be married to a cousin, which allowed him to settle in England.

She said video of the wedding ceremony showed the bride was "almost comatose" and needed help to repeat vows she did not understand, while her relatives had made "false and misleading" statements about her condition.

And the judge brushed aside claims by the woman's parents that having her marriage annulled would bring shame upon their family, in a case that was even considered at by the Government's most senior lawyer, the Attorney General.

Mrs Justice Parker said that forcing marriage on someone who lacks mental capacity is a "gross interference" with their dignity and autonomy, particularly as it means having sex and possibly becoming pregnant without being able to consent.

Read the rest here.


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