Forced Marriage Abroad
Forced marriages of Canadians do not always take place in Canada. Many at-risk individuals are taken to their countries of origin, sometimes under false pretences, to enter into marriages with people about whom they know very little.
These cases are a special concern because these transnational forced marriages are often outside the jurisdiction of Canadian law and often leave individuals (especially women and minors) in vulnerable and hostile situations, often in remote areas with limited means to access support from local services or Canadian authorities.
“Canada opposes the practice of Forced Marriage and urges all countries to respect their international human rights obligations relating to free and full consent to marriage. Forced marriage constitutes a human rights violation under international law to which Canada is a signatory.” – DFAIT (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade)
If foreign travel is mentioned and the person believes that there is a risk of being forced into a marriage while abroad, see if it is possible for them to decline the trip. If theyfeel that they cannot decline, prepare them for the various difficulties they may encounter if they wish to return to Canada.
You can create a safety plan with the individual if they are at risk. Here are some steps they can take before leaving Canada:
- Register with DFAIT before leaving. If you are a Canadian citizen travelling or living abroad, you can register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). DFAIT will then be able to help you in case of any emergency. The form can be found on the DFAIT website http://www.voyage.gc.ca/ or by calling 1-800-267-6788 (inside Canada) or 613-996-8885 collect (outside Canada).
- Leave personal information with a trusted person. Inform someone you trust (friend, teacher…etc.) about your suspicions and leave a contact number and your passport details with that person. Take their number and contact details as well.
- Take a list of resources. Create and take a list of agencies in Canada that may be able to support you.
Please note that this advice applies only if the individualis a Canadian citizen. If the individual atrisk is a permanent or temporary resident it is more complex. If this is the case, please refer them to a legal service which deals with these types of residents. Also, prepare them for any trip abroad by connecting them with non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) located in the country to which they will be travelling.