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Kuwait: Egyptian teen attempts suicide to avoid forced marriage

Publication Date: 
March 20, 2012

Kuwaiti police has launched an investigation into the attempted suicide of an 18-year old Egyptian girl who threw herself off the balcony of an apartment building to avoid a forced marriage.

She survived the fall but suffered multiple fractures.

While recovering at a hospital, the girl told the police that her mother and brother had unexpectedly introduced her to a man and told her that she was his wife and should start “spousal relations” according to a report in Kuwait’s al Rai newspaper.

The shocked teenager responded by jumping out of the balcony of the family’s first floor apartment. She was hospitalized for 19 days and according to the paper, none of her family members visited her during this time.

Her brother did, however, eventually show up, asking her to return home and reassuring her that she had been divorced by her ‘husband.’ But according to the paper, the girl refused and demanded to see evidence that she was ever married.

Kuwaiti police has since called the mother and brother in for questioning in the ongoing investigation.

The tragic case of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who took her own life after being forced to marry her rapist, has sparked an international debate about minors being forced into wedlock.

Amina killed herself by swallowing rat poison in her hometown of Larache in northen Morocco.

A year earlier, she had been raped by a man 10 years her senior but after filing charges against him, a civil court ruled that she should marry her rapist in order to preserve her family’s honor. Her family agreed.

Ten million girls under the age of 18 are married every year worldwide; 1.5 million of that figure is under the age of 15.

Some nations are attempting to address the issue.

Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority banned the practice of forcing women to marry against their will in 2005.

At the time, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said forced marriage was against Islamic law and those responsible for it should be jailed.

The problem isn’t restricted to any one race or religion.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced in October that he sought to strengthen the law against forced marriage by making it a criminal offence to breach a forced marriage protection order. Some ministers proposed to go further, making it a separate criminal offence.

The Home Office remains skeptical about introducing a new criminal offence that would be difficult to define and difficult to enforce. It said existing offences such as kidnapping and human trafficking were enough to deal with the problem.

But in December Home Secretary Teresa May launched discussions of making forced marriage a crime. The issue is gaining momentum among organizations that work with abuse victims.