Several governments and women's rights groups say forced and arranged marriages are a growing problem in European countries. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul the Turkish city recently hosted one of a series meetings that brings together non-governmental organizations and local governments to examine the issue of people being forced to marry against their will.
A women from southeast Turkey told representatives of leading non-governmental organizations and local governments meeting last week in Istanbul about her forced marriage.
"I got married when I was 27, it was arranged marriage. I only met husband once before we wed, but I had no choice. It was decided by my family and his that this was the man I have to spend the rest of my life, this is how it is for women, marriage is not a question of choice," she said.
With the backing of the European Union, the Hamburg, Germany, city council initiated a series of meetings across Europe to discuss forced marriages. Dr. Matthias Bartke of Hamburg says hearing about the experiences of women involved and about Turkish women's rights groups efforts to end forced marriages was an invaluable experience.
"For us it was actually perhaps the most important conference, because in Germany, especially in Hamburg, the Turks are the biggest minority and force marriages often occur among the Turkish community in Hamburg and also as you know the Afghani community," said Dr. Bartke. "I learned quiet a bit today how they are seen in Turkey."
While there has not been a Europe-wide study of forced marriages, speakers said their first-hand experiences indicated a growing problem. Local studies in several German cities support such concerns.
Source: VOA (English)