The Tahirih Justice Center has just released a report that shows some very disturbing instances of as many 3000 young women across the United States being forced into marriage, often to men much older than them that they have never met and whom sometimes turn to brutally raping their young wives, with one man said to have avoided public scrutiny by pretending to be the father of his recent 13 year old bride who only recently arrived in the country. Whilst raping her repeatedly in the evenings she would then attend school during the day where her husband purported father would religiously collect her at the end of the day. Hardly the sort of tale that broach women’s emancipations in modern day America.
In case you think forced marriages are only for foreigners you’d be surprised to learn that according to the report, forced marriages go on quite widely within the US, with as many 47 out of 50 states practicing the craft. What distinguishes forced marriages to that of arranged marriages is the fact that forced marriages do not involve consent from the bride and often involve underage girls.
Hindering the efforts of authorities to remove such trapped brides is the often perceived notion that forced marriages only happen within certain cultures, where as according to one representative, Yasmeen Hamza of the Arab-American Family Support Center in Brooklyn that idea is erroneous as it happens across many different cultures.
Then there are issues of legal impediments, which requires before custodian centers can take preventative measures and seek legal custody or injunction of a minor it suspects is being herded into a forced marriage they must first produce evidence that the girl in question has already physically suffered harm, or is in imminent danger.
One 14 year old girl who did approach one center had to be turned away only to be never seen again after complaining that she was being forced into marrying an older West African man.
Perhaps what makes the act of forced marriages particularly ironic here in the United States is the fact where as most developing nations have mandated legislation that specifically exists to outlaw the forced or potential marriage of minors, such legislation in the US does not exist. So hypothetically agencies in the US can not do a thing until a minor first gets married before they can intervene.
And then there are the gruesome acts of some families taking matters into their own hands when their daughters try to escape forced marriages. In fact one young girl, 20 year old Noor Almaleki attempting to flee such a peril was run over by her father in his jeep and killed.
All of which raises some disturbing questions, chiefly why do some families insist on their daughters being forced into such relationships and what is it about their culture that essentially affirms such behavior?
Perhaps on a deeper level one should ask why such affairs exist in the first place and whether attitudes towards women have remained so backward and predatory that such behavior although appearing negating of a young woman may be natural and even honorable in other people’s eyes. How ironic then that one action which one family applies is perceived to be necessary and of good faith where as to a another populace such behavior defies logic and morality- which throws into question what exactly is moral anymore? But perhaps that’s a theme that will always be up for interpretation when it comes to the subjugation of women’s rights.