The actual picture of the survivor in this story could not be used because of safety concerns for her, and for her family members still in Africa
On the Run!
What Happens When Your Choice is:
Accept a Forced Marriage or Be Killed?
Aisha grew up in Canada. On the cusp of puberty she moved with her family to the country that had been her parents’ first home. There were many wonderful things about living in Africa. Children didn’t stay indoors welded to their computers. They made the whole out of doors their playground and games involved running and jumping and using your imagination. And it was warm… all year round. She often missed Canada, but shovelling the snow and standing at the bus stop when it was -30 with a wind out of the north, not so much.
Aisha had always planned to return to Canada when it became time for her to begin university. She was looking forward to it. Then her father became ill. She couldn’t leave his side when he was feeling like this. Her plans for university were put on hold. Nothing mattered except helping him get better. But that didn’t happen. He became sicker. Finally, he died. Aisha was devastated.
Shortly after his death her uncle, who had never been close to her father, came to her home. He wanted her dad’s house and for that he needed her out of the way. He had a plan. He would marry Aisha to someone he had chosen and then take the house as his own. Aisha was upset. She had no intention of marrying someone she didn’t know. In fact she had no intention of getting married at all until she had completed her education. She gave her uncle a definite “NO.”
That’s when he told her, “Either you marry who I tell you to, or I’ll get someone to kill you.” Aisha thought he must be joking. Then he started screaming and threatening her. “My mom realized how serious it was and told me I had better run. I needed to get out of the country.”
Aisha didn’t know where to look for help so she did what many people do, she went to the internet and googled “forced marriage.” She found a number of email addresses and wrote to them all. She was relieved when she received a personal reply.
When I called her on her cell to help her plan her escape, she said, “There’s no more time. My uncle’s serious. He’s going to have me killed. I’ve found someone to take me across the border. He’s leaving now.”
A journey that shouldn’t have taken more than twelve hours took days. Crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with other people, she jostled over bumpy roads hour after hour. The driver was desperately trying to find a border crossing that wasn’t manned. Finally they found a place to sneak across undetected.
I felt so relieved when she finally called and said they were over. “I was afraid something had happened to you,” I said.
I directed her to the Canadian consulate in Djibouti but when she got there the consular official was less than helpful. “I know about your kind of people,” he said. “You’re probably just making the whole thing up.”
This time I called Ottawa on her behalf. The official returned and very grudgingly gave her the money she needed to get to Addis Ababa. “I have to do it,” he said without a smile.
With not much more than the clothes on her back, Aisha travelled to Ethiopia where she waited two days until the embassy officials could get her documents in order and get her a flight out. Then there was just one change in Germany and, finally, she was home on Canadian soil again.
I sat down with Aisha and asked her what she thinks needs to change in order to help others fleeing forced marriage.
“For starters, Canada needs to train the staff at their consulates and embassies. They need to understand how common forced marriages are and they need to show some compassion to a girl who is frightened and fleeing for her life. There needs to be a protocol in place that embassy staff must follow in cases of forced marriage.
“And another thing we need is a toll-free number in Canada just for forced marriages, which can be called from anywhere in the world, and an email address as well. There would be staff that would understand these situations and all the fear and terror that the person is going through. And the phones and emails would be answered right away, any time of the night or day.
“It would also help to have ads in schools. I think that for students in Canada, they need to start thinking about the possibility that this could happen to them, long before it becomes a problem. Then they will know where to go for help the moment that something happens to them.”
What advice would she give to someone who found themselves in a similar situation?
“Never give up. If you ask someone for help and they reject you, try someone else. Someone, somewhere will help you. Never give up!”
– Shirley Gillett
 Name changed to protect the identity of the survivor, and her family members still in Africa
Determinants of child and forced marriage in Morocco: stakeholder perspectives on health, policies and human rights
Results: Four major themes arose from the data, indicating that the following elements contribute to child and forced marriage: (1) the legal and social divergence in conceptualizing forced and child marriage; (2) the impact of legislation; (3) the role of education; and (4) the economic factor.
Read More Here:
Banaz – A Love Story
This is a documentary film chronicling an act of overwhelming horror – the honour killing of Banaz Mahmod, a young British woman in suburban London in 2006, killed and “disappeared” by her own family, with the agreement and help of a large section of the Kurdish community, because she tried to choose a life for herself.
‘Honour-based Violence’ Needs Assessment
Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA) has received funding from Status of Women Canada to create a collaborative strategy plan to address service gaps experienced by women, girls and families impacted by honour-based violence.
The first part of this initiative is to conduct an in-depth needs assessment with service providers, survivors of ‘honour’-based violence and community members. We have developed a survey for service providers to complete as well as a survey for survivors of honour-based violence and/or community members who know someone that has experienced ‘honour’-based violence to complete. We will also be holding one-to-one interviews with survivors to learn more about their experiences in accessing services.
Do you have 10 minutes to help those facing family violence get the help they need?
Here’s what we need from you:
- Take about 10 minutes of your day to complete the service provider survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HonourBasedViolenceServiceProviders. The survey will be open from November 4th, 2013 to November 29th, 2013. Your responses will help us develop a strategy plan to address ‘honour’-based violence in Scarborough.
- Connect with people you know who have experienced a form of ‘honour’-based violence and let them know of the anonymous survey they can complete at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HonourBasedViolence. The survey will be open from November 4th, 2013 to November 29th, 2013. If they are interested in participating in a one-to-one interview which will be confidential, please ask them to contact Doris El Harchali:
Should you have any questions or require further information, please contact Doris at the contact information provided above or Angie Arora at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your participation!