Ground-breaking study finds 219 reported cases over just 3 years, cutting across lines of culture and nationality. And there may be many more flying the radar.
A groundbreaking three-year study of forced marriage in Ontario has found more than 200 women who were wed against their will, a practice the report’s authors say highlights serious gaps in services. The first-of-its-kind report, being released at a Toronto news conference Friday, was conducted by the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario , which questioned 30 social service agencies about the practice. It found 219 reported cases between 2010 and 2012, with 97 per cent of the victims being women. The survey found the majority of victims, 81 per cent, were between 16 and 34 years old. The report found that parents, siblings, extended family, grandparents and religious leaders were all involved in pushing individuals into forced marriage. The reasons were mostly cultural (66 per cent), but honour, money and immigration purposes were also behind some forced marriages.
Haya, a woman now living in Mississauga who asked that her last name not be used, was forced to flee when her father decided to marry her off to a cousin. Sixteen at the time, she and her family were deported from Canada to Pakistan four years ago. It was there, she said, that her father announced the arranged marriage. She was held “prisoner” in her grandmother’s house. Her father confiscated her Pakistani passport. Eventually she escaped from Karachi to Islamabad, where she was able to contact Canadian officials, who gave her a temporary visa to return to Canada.