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Forced Marriage

One speaks of forced marriage when one of the partners is coerced into marriage. Persons concerned are often exposed to strong repression, tyranny, and isolation from their social environment. They are threatened with violence through their own families, especially through male relatives.

The boundary between forced and arranged marriage is blurry, because coercion can be interpreted in different ways. If in doubt, the perspective of the affected person should be decisive.

Women and Girls Are Particularly Affected

Forced marriage particularly affects girls and women, but also men suffer from it. There are no robust figures on how many forced marriage are consummated in Germany.

There are manifold motives as to why families force their kin into marriage: material interests can play a role, e.g. in the form of a bride price, or the prospect of a residential title. Others seek to commit their children to archaic values.         

Grave Violation of Human Rights

Forced marriage is a grave violation of human rights (paragraph 16, section 2) and is in violation of German criminal and civil law regulations. Forced marriage contradicts key constitutional values, such as gender equality, human dignity, personal freedom, and the right to self-determination.


Further information

The Freedom to Choose a Partner – Guidelines for how schools can deal with forced marriages, published by the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, and Integration, 2nd edition, Berlin 2010 (PDF, in German).