Types of Forced Marriage

Types of Forced Marriage

Forced Marriage by Parents, Families and Communities

The most common type of forced marriage occurs when parents or other family members force one or both of the participants into the marriage. This type of forced marriage is usually supported by the surrounding community, making it difficult to avoid or escape.

Forced Marriage by Religious Leaders

In this type of forced marriage, one or both of the participants to the marriage are forced into it by religious leaders, supported by their religious community. In isolated communities, such as the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) in Bountiful, BC, the isolation ensures that those forced into these marriages have few or no outside ties, making avoidance or escape difficult.

Forced Marriage in Conflict Zones

In the upheaval of war and conflict, with the breakdown of law and government, women and girls may be forced to marry men on either side of the conflict. This has occurred recently in places such as the Sierra Leone, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Historically it has happened globally with women being treated as “the spoils of war” to be raped, forced into prostitution, forced into marriage by the men who capture them, or given as rewards to higher ranking leaders.

Trafficking for the Purpose of Forced Marriage

There is a growing trade in the trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of forced marriage. This trade is most common in countries where the male to female ratio has been artificially altered through female-selective abortionor female infanticide,2 or through the adoption abroad of female children.

Kidnapping for the Purpose of Forced Marriage

There have been a number of international cases where women and girls have been kidnapped by men to serve as second wives in a polygamous marriage.3

Adoption for the Purpose of Forced Marriage

In a number of reported cases, girls have been adopted from abroad to serve as second or third wives in polygamous marriages.

Forced Marriage Through Hereditary Slavery

In these cases, a slave owner forces the slaves he inherits into marriages of the slave owner’s choosing. Although the slavery itself is illegal, lack of enforcement in some areas allows it to continue with all the attendant abuses.

Forced Marriage by Partner

In these cases, an abusive partner forces the other partner into marriage through the use of violence or threat of violence.

1 Female-selective abortion – occurs when tests are done on a pregnant woman to determine the sex of the fetus, and only those fetuses determined to be female are aborted.
2 Female infanticide – occurs when a female infant is purposely killed because she is a girl, or when she is abandoned without food, shelter or care so that she will die from starvation, frostbite, dehydration or injury.
3 Polygamous marriage – a marriage in which one partner has two or more spouses at the same time. In these cases it is a male having two or more wives at the same time. Polygamous marriages are illegal in Canada.

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