A disturbing new report is out in Switzerland that has documented a marked rise in the number of forced marriages occurring in the country. The study was conducted by the Swiss Center of Competence against Forced Marriage, or Zwangsheirat (one of those Germanic words that just roll off the tongue).
The organization has been documenting cases of forced marriages since 2005, at which point there were about, “two cases per month,” according to Anu Sivaganesan, head of Zwangsheirat. In the last five years, this has increased to about, “five cases per week.”
More troubling still is the fact that often, these forced marriages involve minors who are under the age of 18 (the legal age for marriage in Switzerland), or even under the age of 16 (the legal age of consent in Switzerland).
In fact, this year alone, there have already been 119 cases of forced marriage of children under the age of 18. Of these, 26 victims were under the age of 16. Some cases involved children as young as the age of 10.
All of this is deeply distressing. And in case you, dear reader, were beginning to infer that in the past ten years, all of a sudden, those blue-eyed Alpine Yodelers had developed a taste for underage brides, you might want to think again.
According to Sivaganesan, the problem is almost exclusively linked to immigrants from Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
However, Sivganesan is quick to stress that the numbers could be rising so rapidly because more people are reporting forced marriages due to increased awareness and changed Swiss laws. Could it account for such enormous increases, however? Most certainly not.
More curiously, however, Sivganesan goes on to say that, “there is no specific religion that we can focus on.” According to her, the reasons for forced marriages are quite complex.
Well this is all very interesting indeed, given that the populations of the countries mentioned above, save Eritrea, are almost exclusively Muslim:
- Somalia: 99.8%
- Iraq: 99%
- Afghanistan: 99.7%
And in case you, dear reader, need to brush up on your Quranic studies, allow me to remind you that the Prophet Mohammad himself had a proclivity for underage brides. In fact, his favorite wife, Aisha, was 6 years old when he married her, but the Prophet displayed tremendous restraint by waiting until she was 9 years old to consummate the marriage.
Hence, at the end of the day, we witness two deeply troubling trends: the rise of forced marriages; and the lack of willingness to openly discuss its cultural roots. When even the head of the “Swiss Center of Competence against Forced Marriage” cannot speak honestly about the roots of these grave injustices, we can be sure that we are living in times of intellectual feebleness indeed.