Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Lecture Resources


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Forced Marriage



Women choose death over marriage

James Astill in Kabul,, Apr 2, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 September 2011]

"Every minute of every day, she was fetching water, growing crops, looking after animals and children, cleaning the house. She was patient, but it was too much for her: she was educated and sensitive. She found it hard to live like a slave."

She was not alone in her suffering, nor in the agonising way she chose to die. Anecdotal evidence suggests several hundred young women are burning themselves to death in western Afghanistan every year.




Choosing Death by Fire Over Marriage - Forced Marriages Are Driving Some Women to Self-Immolation

Leela Jacinto, ABC News, Dec. 11

[accessed 21 January 2011]

The abduction came as a complete surprise to Miah, a London-based community youth activist who had been dating Shipa for several years.  Shipa's family had earlier accepted a marriage proposal put forth in the "correct way" by Miah's family, and the young Briton was unaware that her parents had no intention of actually allowing their daughter to marry a man of her choice.

On the morning of Oct. 12, 1995, Shipa was whisked to a cousin's place near Heathrow Airport, then flown to Bangladesh. She was not informed about her family's plans for her future until just a few hours before boarding the plane.




Human Rights Reports 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 29 January 2011]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS Some experts suggested that the demand for abducted women was fueled by the shortage of marriageable brides, especially in rural areas. The serious imbalance in the male-female sex ratio at birth, the tendency for many village women to leave rural areas to seek employment, and the cost of traditional betrothal gifts all made purchasing a bride attractive to some poor rural men. Some men recruited brides from poorer regions, while others sought help from criminal gangs. Criminal gangs either kidnapped women and girls or tricked them with promises of jobs and higher living standards, only to be transported far from their homes for delivery to buyers. Once in their new "family," these women were "married" and raped. Some accepted their fate and joined the new community; others struggled and were punished; a few escaped.




The bride was 7 - In the heart of Ethiopia, child marriage takes a brutal toll

Paul Salopek, Tribune foreign correspondent, Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2004

[accessed 17 April 2012]

Tihun Nebiyu the goat herder doesn't want to marry. She is adamant about this. But in her village nobody heeds the opinions of headstrong little girls. That's why she's kneeling in the filigreed shade of her favorite thorn tree, dropping beetles down her dress. Magic beetles.

"It doesn't work!" Tihun says, disgusted. She heaves an exaggerated sigh and squints out across the yellow-grass hills surrounding her world: "I will just have to run." But this is childish bluster. Tihun's short legs can't carry her away fast enough from the death of her childhood. Her wedding is five days away. And she is 7 years old.

But child marriage ruins lives in other ways too. Often treated like indentured servants, young brides are subject to beatings by their grown husbands and in-laws. And thousands of girls end up trapped in the sex trade, whether through organized child bride trafficking rings in countries such as China or, in Africa, by simply drifting from abusive marriages into street prostitution, social workers say.



Ethiopia & Nigeria

WANTED: the right to refuse

Maggie Black, Issue 337, New Internationalist, August 2001

[accessed 4 February 2011]

Take a look at article one of the Supplementary Convention on Slavery and you will see as one definition: Any practice whereby a woman, without the right to refuse, is given in marriage in payment of a consideration in money or in kind ...

At the beginning of the 21st century being a child wife, even if its illegal, puts you in a limbo. You are invisible as either child or woman, because you have been married. What a man does to you once, if you are underage and single, is statutory rape. What he does to you night after night, if you are underage and married, is fine. In rural Ethiopia, no-one goes to help a girl of 10 when they hear her screaming out at night. Its something she must learn to bear. After all, she is a wife.

How about a story? Just one, about Hauwa Abukar, a Nigerian girl who died aged 12. Her family had married her to an older man to whom they owed money. She was unhappy and kept running away, but because of the debt her parents were obliged to return her. Finally, her husband chopped off her legs with an axe to prevent her absconding again. She died from starvation, shock and loss of blood. No legal action was taken.




Sad Plight of Underage Brides

Ramilya Alieva, Institute for Womens Policy Research IWPR, 2005/06/02

[accessed 6 February 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

I do not want to get married. I want to continue my studies and become a doctor," said Sevil Allazkyzy. Small and fragile with a childlike body, Sevil is only 11 years old, and all her grades are excellent. She is the best student in the seventh form of the school in the village of Ferma in the Kaspi District of Georgia. However, the main topic of discussion at home now is the intention to get her married this year. She said that many of the girls in her village have had a couple of children by the time they reach 15.



Kyrgyz Republic

Kyrgyzstan - The Kidnapped Bride

Petr Lom, Frontline World, March 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

When the bride does arrive, she is dragged into the groom's house, struggling and crying. Her name is Norkuz, and it turns out she has been kidnapped from her home about a mile away.

As the women of the groom's family surround Norkuz and hold down both of her hands, they are at once forceful and comforting, informing her that they, too, were kidnapped. The kidnappers insist that they negotiated the abduction with Norkuz's brother, but her sister, a lawyer from Osh, arrives to protest that her sister is being forced to marry a stranger. Ideally in Kyrgyz circles, a bride's family gets a price for their daughter, but Norkuz is 25 -- considered late to marry -- and the women remind her she is lucky she was kidnapped at all.




Forced Marriage - Pakistanis Order Betrothal of 2-Year-Old

Khalid Tanveer, Associated Press AP, Multan, Pakistan, Feb 21, 2005

[accessed 19 August 2014]

A tribal council in Pakistan has ordered the betrothal of a 2-year-old girl to a man 40 years older to punish her uncle for an alleged affair with the man's wife, police said Monday. The council decreed the girl must marry 42-year-old Mohammed Altaf, her uncle's cousin, when she turns 18, police said.

In 2002, another village council near Multan ordered a woman gang-raped as punishment for her brother's sexual relations with another woman.




Charity reveals tragedy of forced marriages

Adam Beaumont in Geneva, swissinfo, 7 December 2006

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Thousands of women trapped in forced marriages in Switzerland are suffering severe mental and physical abuse, say the authors of the first Swiss study into the practice. The charity Surgir (Rise), which carried out the survey, is now calling on the government to draw up a national strategy to aid victims. Announcing the findings in Geneva on Wednesday, Jacqueline Thibault, the organisation's president, described the scale of the problem as "enormous". She added that many victims were too afraid to escape forced marriages for fear of reprisals, including so-called "honour killings".

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