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Home » Resources » Survey on Forced Marriage in Immigrant Communities in the United States

Survey on Forced Marriage in Immigrant Communities in the United States

Publication Date: 
September, 2011

About: The Tahirih Justice Center (Tahirih) is one of the nation’s foremost legal defense organizations protecting women and girls fleeing human rights abuses. Through direct legal services, public policy advocacy, and public education and outreach, since 1997, Tahirih has assisted over 12,000 immigrant women and children from all over the world fleeing such abuses as domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, torture, female genital mutilation, “honor” crimes, and forced marriage. Tahirih also leads national advocacy campaigns on a range of issues, building on our direct services experiences, to press for systemic changes in laws, policies, and practices to better protect women and girls from violence.

About three years ago, Tahirih and some of our colleague organizations began to notice an increasing number of forced marriage cases involving young women and girls—some as young as 13—from traditional immigrant communities in the United States. By force, fraud, or coercion, they were being compelled to marry men from their families’ countries or regions of origin, and— if the young woman was a US citizen—she might then be forced to sponsor a fiancé or spouse visa to enable the groom to come to the United States.

When Tahirih began to work on these cases, we were struck by how few resources and legal options exist in the United States to assist individuals facing forced marriages, as well as how little awareness or understanding there is nationwide about the unique dynamics and challenges in forced marriage situations.

Tahirih developed and fielded a national survey to see if other service-providers were likewise encountering forced marriage cases, to learn about their experiences, and to call attention to what we believed to be a serious but hidden problem. While Tahirih recognizes that forced marriages can occur in any community, this survey focused on forced marriage in immigrant communities.

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