Escaping Forced Marriage in the Western World
Mohinder tells her story:
Around the age of 15/16 my family found a boy for me to marry. Despite telling them I did not want to marry this boy they paid no attention. They said that they knew what was best for me. A few years later, I noticed that my family suddenly began buying large quantities of alcohol ready for my engagement party, which I knew nothing about and had not agreed to. Apparently my intended husband had graduated from University, so was now ready for marriage. I was shocked and frightened by this news and felt I had to speak out or I would be married off. The response from my family was an ultimatum to either marry the young man they had chosen for me, or to leave home and never return. I chose to leave home. I packed my suitcase and left for University. Luckily I had an inquisitive mind and a desire to learn so a university education became my escape route. My story did not take place in a rural village in India but rather in a large city in the East Midlands in England in the late 1970s.
That ultimatum still stands in my youngest brother’s mind. He has not spoken to me since the day I left home, despite meeting him three times at family funerals in the last few decades – once at my father’s funeral, when I was told not to attend as I was not welcome, once at the funeral of one of my three older brothers and again at the funeral of my little great niece.
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Mohinder Watson, PhD wears three different hats. She escaped a forced marriage as a teenager, has recently founded an international NGO based in Geneva called Action on Child, Early and Forced Marriage and is an academic currently researching child, early and forced marriage across the world.
© LWF/ P. Kikomeko
"I did not ha ve a say in whatever was arranged. The only time I had ever met the man I was supposed to marry was at family functions. I always thought he was one of those distant family members."
Alwel Violet, married at 8 years old
© LWF/ C. Kästner
"We all were impressed by the courage of Gisma's family to refund the dowry and send her back to school. Gisma is an inspiration."
Julius Tiboa, LWF Maban child protection officer
© LWF/C. Kästner
"In many families, the girls are only seen as a source of income. Their worth is defined by the dowry a suitor pays for them when they marry."
Refugee from Blue Nile and mother of ALP top performing student Tawheda Badradin Ali
Today, pray for all the girls forced to marry as children.
Please take time to read Mohinder's story, to explore the LWF website and to look for other material concerning forced child marriages. This will help you in your advocacyy work in the coming days.
Do you know of concrete cases in your community and neigbourhood? Do you have proposals for action? Please share with us and send stories and proposals for action to firstname.lastname@example.org