An Introduction to Forced Marriage in the South Asian Community in the United States


The practice of Forced Marriage, where one or both persons involved are coerced through pressure or abuse to consent to a marriage against their will, has been widely addressed in places such as the United Kingdom, but it has only recently begun to enter the framework of women’s rights advocacy work here in the United States. I am an Advocate at Manavi, a New Jersey-based South Asian1 women’s rights organization (SAWO) who has been trained on the issue of forced marriage in the UK. In this position, I have observed that in the US we are only beginning to understand what this practice is, what populations it affects, how prevalent it is and how we can effectively respond to this form of violence against women and girls so as to ensure the safety and well-being of those subjected to it. In June 2010, for the purposes of this paper, I conducted a 10-question web-based survey amongst frontline advocates at 25 SAWOs across the US. The responses I received from the survey, in addition to the cases emerging through Manavi’s advocacy work, con rms that forced marriages are happening in South Asian communities in the US. As frontline, grassroots advocates and activists in the South Asian community, we have witnessed a recent increase in reported cases even though this harmful traditional practice has been happening for many years. 

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Last updated on 05/04/2017