Human trafficking is a serious problem of modern society. However, many people are not aware of the fact. It is connected with the circumstance that the victims of such treatment can rarely raise their voices to tell the world about their problems. The number of people who suffer from human trafficking that is mentioned in the statistical data is no doubt underestimated. This essay will focus on a certain type of human trafficking that is called forced marriage. Forced marriage is an important topic relevant to human trafficking because it destroys the life of many people (mostly women) all over the world and makes their existence unbearable.
At first, it is necessary to identify what a concept of forced marriage means. To perform this, various sources have been analyzed in order to find the most simple and logical definition. It is given by the Parliamentary Assembly “Resolution 1468 (2005) ‘Forced Marriages and Child Marriages.’” Parliamentary Assembly identifies it as “the union of two persons at least one of whom has not given their full and free consent to the marriage.” In all the other definitions the key aspect is the absence of consent as well. What is more, speaking about forced marriage, people mostly believe that the term is used when talking about treating women only. According to the given definition, it is not so. The same can be mentioned also about men. What is more, the people involved are not always adults; there can be children as well.
It is important not to mix terms “forced marriage” and “arranged marriage”. Arranged marriages are those where the selection of a future husband and a wife is performed by the third party. But here future spouses have a chance to either accept or refuse the offer (Stobart 10). Forced marriages are different because in them a bride (or a groom) is forced to get married against his or her own will. If a girl in the family does not obey, she can be severely punished, and, in some rare cases, even killed. This kind of marriage is very different and much crueler than the arranged marriage.
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The U.S. government has a very unequivocal position regarding marriage and consent to it. According to the “Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages,” “No marriage shall be legally entered into without the full and free consent of both parties.” It is necessary to understand that forced marriage is recognized as an illegal action in the USA and many other developed countries, but there are also those countries, which do not press any criminal charges towards offenders. Some of them are loyal to human trafficking because of the specific traditions and historical background of the area.
There are many ways to classify forced marriages. According to one of them, forced marriages can be classified depending on the way of duress: physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional (Stobart 10). This classification identifies what kind of pressure was used to make a person enter or proceed a forced marriage.
The main ways to influence the future victim physically are domestic abuse in the family and abduction. Domestic abuse usually works if a person does not have people to protect her outside the forcing family. A child that got used to severe physical punishment cannot see any other solution than to enter the forced marriage. Abduction is a kidnapping of the bride, which is still practiced in certain countries. Marriage is usually made visibly legal by paying the bride price to the family of the victim after the abduction. This kind of forced marriages is closely connected to another one, the sexual duress because after the abduction the victim often gets raped by the future husband. Getting regular sexual satisfaction from the girl or using her for providing sexual services to other people is very often the main aim of forcing a girl into marriage by abduction.
Another interesting issue is one kind of marriage that is forced using physical pressure. This kind is typical even for developed countries and is special because the person forced to enter marriage is the man here. It is the case of the unplanned pregnancy of the girl when her relatives force the future father to marry a girl by threatening to kill him.
There are also many ways how a psychological or emotional pressure can be used to force a person into marriage. It is impossible to list all of them so only the most amazing, incredible, but still existent will be characterized. The first one is the tradition of inheritance of bride by husband’s relatives, mostly brothers, after she becomes a widow. Another example is forcing into marriage as a way to finish a state of war between certain families. In this case, a girl is becoming a prey given to the other family to forget about the past misunderstandings (Nasrullah, Zakar, and Kramer 517-524).
Forced marriage based on a financial reason itself is a rare event. It happens more often in an arranged marriage when a person understands the necessity of marrying a wealthy bride or a groom as an only way to get a financial stability. But, again, it is a person`s own choice, so it cannot be applied to forced marriage. However, there are cases when a needy family forces a person to marry to save the family. However, in these cases, financial pressure is always closely connected with some other kinds of pressure: physical, psychological or emotional because a person does not make her own choice based on financial reasons, but is forced by her or his family in different ways.
The consequences of forced marriage can be various. They can lead to physical, psychological and emotional disorders. These disorders are often caused by a state of dependence and helplessness that a person experiences all the time. What is more, having non-consensual sexual relations make it even harder to bear (Bendriss 22-23). Violence and domestic abuse lead to serious problems with health, too. Another consequence is losing possibilities to continue education and find work. A girl might be withdrawn from the educational system or simply be unable to find a power and determination to study. Even those who can manage to find work often do not do that for long having understood that they would not be able to spend the money they earned.
If a person is already forced into marriage, which has negative consequences onto his or her health and psychological state, he/she has a choice either to stay or to try to flee the marriage. In case a person chooses the second way, two options are available. The first one is to leave and hide all the time feeling fear of disclosure. In this way, it is necessary to consider that a left spouse may take revenge on the escapee`s family. The second way is to prosecute the offender legally. In this way, a victim needs to know that once started, there is no way back. The betrayed spouse will get furious and may take revenge if a victim changes his/her mind (Stobart 21). That is why a clear decision is important.
Forced marriages are entered for various reasons without the free consent of the bride or a groom. Most of them lead to serious problems with health and broken emotional state. The best way to leave the marriage where domestic abuse and violence took place is to contact the police. Forced marriage is a serious type of human trafficking that destroys personality and may change life forever. To deal with it, people should be aware of their rights and help each other in difficult life situations.