HEUNI contributing to international discussion on forced marriage

Published 17.1.2019

On 14-16th of January HEUNI staff took part in Bari, Italy in the 5th training of an EU-funded project tackling violence against refugee women. Each one of the project’s training discusses a form of gender-based violence; the training in Bari concentrated on the phenomena of forced marriage. Based on the project data, collected and analyzed by HEUNI, forced marriage is one of the most common forms of gender-based violence faced by refugee women. Root causes for forced marriage are unequal societal norms and practices as well as a lack of respect for women’s rights.

The project data reveals that victims of forced marriage are often also victims of, sometimes very harsh, domestic violence. In addition, forced marriage deprives women of opportunities to education and economic independence leading also to further power imbalance in a marriage. Both, the threat of forced marriage, as well as sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence in a marriage, are push factors for women’s migration. Based on the Istanbul Convention’s forced marriage should be considered persecution and therefore a ground for asylum. However, based on the project’s findings, and as discussed in the training in Bari, forced marriage is very seldomly used as a ground for asylum claims, partly because women are not able to tell their stories in a manner required by the asylum process or to convince during the process that forced marriage is a real threat to their lives.

HEUNI is also currently finalizing a study commissioned by UNODC on the links between marriage and human trafficking. The desk research and field visits to 9 countries were conducted during 2017-2018. The research report identifying several different links between these marriage cases and trafficking in persons is currently being finalized and submitted to UNODC.

Stay update about the project and the data collection methodology developed by HEUNI here.

More about marriage and trafficking in human beings here.