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Forced Marriage Troubles By: Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 09, 2007

She said she was too young to marry. But for honestly expressing her opinion with upright, civilized dignity against her impending forced marriage, the 15-year old Muslim, Turkish-German girl was rewarded with a vicious blow to the head that knocked her nearly unconscious to the floor. Her savage assailant? Her own father.

The parent of the unwilling bride-to-be had returned to his native Turkey with his teenaged daughter, who had grown up in Germany, to arrange her marriage to a cousin 12 years her senior. The cousin was present with his whole clan when his intended received the brutal chastisement. No one reacted. She should have known better. Like many women in traditional, patriarchal, Muslim-Turkish families, she has nothing to say about her marital fate. Moreover, previously in Germany, her father had already beaten her many times for refusing to answer her cousin’s letters, until she relented.

Having washed her face after the blow as ordered, the subdued teenager took her place again with the others, now silent and sullen under watchful eyes, and listened to the negotiations over the ‘bride-price’, in which property, money and houses were mentioned as well as her attributes. In addition, the wedding date, the number of children she was to bear and the date of their arrival were also discussed. However, since no deal was reached, the young woman was able to return to Germany unmarried to await her next "suitor."

It is estimated that 30,000 women among Germany’s 3.2 million Muslim population, of which 2.7 million are of Turkish origin, are subjected to forced marriages every year. Hundreds of young Muslim girls disappear annually from their German elementary and high schools to travel to their native Turkey and other Muslim countries, never to return.  Many are told they are going on holidays and do not realize they are to be married until after their arrival, after which their passports, jeans and freedom are taken away and  replaced with head scarves and confinement. Moreover, it is only on their wedding day that some see their husbands for the first time.

But not all the Muslim girls – and men – who return to their countries for a spouse remain there. Some later bring their marital partners to the Federal Republic as part of a family reunification program to live in the ever expanding Muslim ghettos present in every large German city. In 2003, from Turkey alone, 10,003 women joined their husbands in Germany, while 7,769 men were sponsored by their wives, according to German foreign office statistics.

But while forced marriages are bad enough, violating the basic Western precept concerning an individual’s right of choice as well as the woman’s personal dignity, it is the inhuman way the women in these unwanted unions are treated afterwards that has drawn the special ire of human rights groups. In many cases, the new wives live a slave-like existence for years in their new families, toiling long hours at housework under the rule of an oppressive mother-in-law, while suffering extensive physical and emotional abuse, sometimes from the day after their wedding, at the hands of their husbands. It is estimated that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Muslim women in Germany endure daily such barbaric conditions.

Needless to say, freedom of movement, to come and go as they wish, also does not exist for the female newlyweds. Even Muslim girls who grew up in Germany and had enjoyed this basic right in their outwardly integrated families are now confined to the home of their new husbands and may not leave unless accompanied by a male.

But it is worse for the “import-brides” (called ‘gelin’ in Turkish). The only glimpse some will ever have of their new country is from the window of the car that takes them from the airport to the apartment where they will live, and sometimes never leave, for years. One female German social worker in Munich, who deals with Muslim women fleeing abusive, forced and arranged marriages, said they are “overwhelmed” with their first view of the city from high up on a television tower. They never knew Munich was so big and had such things as train stations and a zoo.

“Many women do not know where they have been living for years,” said the social worker, saying most had never left their Muslim neighborhood, and even their apartments. Some of these women, she added, are astounded to learn that rape is a crime in Germany, which indicates their isolation from German society and the brutality they had fled. Indeed, one observer correctly stated these ‘gelin’ may have arrived in Germany but had never really lived there.

It is also harder for import-brides to seek help, since most speak no German. Moreover, fear may overrule any attempt to break out of their abusive situations, since the whole family clan will then pursue them. As well, many of the abused wives are threatened with death if they go to the police. And those who do flee are also potential murder victims, since leaving a traditional, patriarchal Muslim home carries a death sentence.

Moreover, murders have also occurred when a woman refuses a forced marriage. An Afghan woman, for example, was killed in Germany when she refused to marry her brother-in-law after her husband had died.

“Forced marriages are our biggest problem,” said a Berlin integration official, probably to no one’s surprise. And the problem has become so pervasive that most German cities now have special establishments for Muslim women fleeing the marital home. 

Another disturbing issue concerning import-brides in forced/arranged marriages is their young ages. The youngest victim of an honor murder in Germany, for example, was a 14-year-old, married Muslim girl; while a 22-year-old Turkish man was discovered living with his 11-year-old wife in Dusseldorf. The people back in the couple’s village told a German reporter it was not a forced marriage but rather love that spurred the union.

But even if a girl/woman does not protest an arranged marriage, remaining silent, does that mean she has consented? Probably not, since women subjected to such marriages are regarded, and afterwards often treated, as mere chattel with no opinion or right to dissent. For unlike marriage in western countries where matrimony is regarded as a sacrament, marriage in the Muslim world, as well as in other places, is regarded as a contract, and not between individuals, but rather between families or clans. The individuality of the woman is not recognized let alone the concept of her having equal rights with the husband.

The "bride-price" is a part of the contract that even less well-off Muslims in Germany can now afford thanks to bank loans. This payment for a wife is regarded as establishing the right of the husband’s family to the children of the union as well as compensation to her family for the loss of her reproductive power, which now will increase the size of her spouse’s family or clan. Thus, it is not surprising that the 15-year-old girl mentioned above, whose anti-forced marriage protest was answered with her father’s fist, sat listening to how many children she was to have and when.

“They regard women simply as a womb on two legs,” said a female Turkish-German writer, summing up the prospective bride’s position best.


And if the contracted woman does not produce the desired children, then she is simply sent back to her family in disgrace and another is bought, the first wife’s value now almost worthless on the marriage market.


German-Muslim feminists blame politically correct women’s groups, multiculturalists and leftists in Germany for allowing this disgraceful situation to continue where women are severely ill-treated and regarded as nothing more than a source of wealth for one family and babies for another. These leftist Germans, say the Muslim feminists, refuse to criticize and intervene, since this may damage their unrealizable dream of a multicultural society. Their leftist hypocrisy does even cause them to oppose the polygamy Muslims are now allowed to practice in Germany (and in France) as long as the extra wives were married legally in their native countries (another victory for sharia law). 


But what these German-Muslim feminists do not realize is that now little, if anything, can probably be done to remedy the situation. Besides the fact that a criminal, society-destroying multiculturalism allows even the most offensive and archaic custom to flourish in Germany, forced marriages and honor murders are very deeply rooted in Muslim-Middle Eastern culture. And this culture is now well established in large parts of German cities where western laws and values have been repealed.


“No laws are valid for us,” confirmed one teenaged Muslim woman, who fled her home after an uncle had raped her and was living under a family death sentence for having sullied the family honor.


The question now remains whether Germany’s liberal democratic society can survive such anti-civilizational practices as forced/arranged, marriages where so many women are placed in such an inferior position by a false legality. Probably not. When a father is allowed to sell his daughter in a commercial transaction disguised as marriage to a man sometimes many years her senior against her free will and with no choice on her part regarding the marriage or motherhood, all without protest or protection from the surrounding society, then freedom and dignity are dying in that society and a new form of slavery and falsehood is taking hold.


Stephen Brown is a contributing editor at Frontpagemag.com. He has a graduate degree in Russian and Eastern European history. Email him at alsolzh@hotmail.com.

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