Study on Forced Marriages: Alarming Results

09.11.2011

On Wednesday, the German Ministry for Family Affairs presented the findings of its first study on forced marriage in Germany – which brought about alarming results. The study was commissioned by the Ministry and conducted by the women’s rights organisation Terres des Femmes and the Hamburg-based Lawaetz Foundation. It is based on information provided by more than 800 consultation clinics across the country for people who are either threatened or affected by forced marriages. According to the information provided by these clinics, they registered roughly 3400 cases of forced marriages in 2008 – and these numbers only reflect those that tried to seek help; the actual number of forced marriages is expected to be much higher. The vast majority of these cases (95%) affected women; approximately 30% of them were 17 years or younger, ca. 40% of them were between 18 and 21 years old. Furthermore, most of those affected (roughly 60%) have an immigration background and 83.4% come from Muslim families. Family Minister Kristina Schröder reminded that forced marriages were a statutory offense in Germany; yet, she also acknowledged that ‘the reality is more complicated than a flick through the law book may lead one to believe’ (DW).

Due to the over-representation of migrant families in the findings, Schröder handed the study over to Maria Böhmer, the government’s commissioner for integration. Böhmer is now developing strategies to tackle forced marriages; she wants to make schools more aware of the problem and, once again, stresses the need to develop migrants’ language skills, as language is key for a self-confident, freely-chosen life, independent of parents. Schröder announced the introduction of a national telephone hotline for victims of violence or forced marriage. The opposition criticized these measures as merely symbolic; most of them will not be implemented in practice until the end of 2012 and, therefore, not offer immediate help to those affected.

Germany Arrests 2 Suspected in Terror Plot

German police arrested two men near Frankfurt on terrorism charges Friday, alleging they were involved in a cell that had plotted to blow up U.S. targets in Germany a year ago. Federal prosecutors said the two suspects — a German citizen and a Turkish national — had traveled separately to Pakistan during 2007 in an attempt to receive training at camps operated by the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda. Authorities said the men had shared bank account information and a debit card with three men arrested in September 2007 on suspicion of planning mass bombing attacks on U.S. targets in Germany. Prosecutors identified the German citizen as Omid S., a 27-year-old of Afghan descent, and said he had received training at a militant camp along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border during the spring and summer of 2007. The Turkish man, identified as 27-year-old Hueseyin O., also traveled to the region last year, prosecutors said. Before he could reach the camp, however, he was detained by Pakistani security forces and forced to return to Germany, according to a statement released by the German federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe. Craig Whitlock reports.

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DW-TV Expands Arabic Programming

Deutsche Welle has announced that it intends to extend its Arabic television programming from three hours a day to eight hours effective April 2, 2007. To provide this extended service, DW has increased its Arabian editorial staff in Berlin from 10 journalists to 30. “In some countries,” DW Director Erik Bettermann said, “our programming allows people to get to know German and European perspectives on issues, while in other states it performs the role of supporting freedom of the press and freedom of speech and promoting human rights.” The Arabic program, broadcast over the Nilesat and Hotbird 6 satellites, will be available in more than 20 countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, reaching an audience of around 10 million viewers. The expanded programming will also include Arabic subtitled feature shows and documentaries.