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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Mariage forcé : une maltraitance familiale

by Maud Dugrand

Arranged Marriages and Ill-Treatment Within Families - a Problem in France as well

Translated Friday 8 June 2007, by Emma Paulay

Violence. A study undertaken in the northern Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis reveals the suffering of young women who are forced into marriage.

Over 400 people met in Bobigny yesterday to hear the results of a study on arranged marriages undertaken by Maryse Jaspard, a research worker at INED (1) in Paris and responsible for the “Enveff” study on women who are victims of violence. The large-scale study on sexist behaviour and violence towards young women which questioned young women in Seine-Saint-Denis aged between 18 and 21 was made public in March of this year. It draws a portrait of those who are in an arranged marriage situation. This is the case of forty young women out of the 1600 questioned. A minority, fortunately. But a minority who have repeatedly been victims of violence within their family and whose health is suffering.

Huma: What does an arranged marriage entail for young women?

Maryse Jaspard: Firstly, we should point out that we singled out those young women whose father is originally from a country where arranges marriage is a strong tradition ie Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa, Asia and a few Eastern European countries. Out of 1600 young women, 703 were in this situation. However, of these 703, 62% are not considered at risk of an arranged marriage, which is good news. We concentrated on the forty young women (8%) who replied affirmatively to the question “Have you been presented with a fiancé?” Of these forty young women, 77% had refused the arranged marriage. 10% accepted it and 13% had been forced to accept through blackmail and coercion from their family.

Huma: Do they consider themselves to be in good health?

Maryse Jaspard: These young women are clearly not as healthy as the others. 17% of the young women faced with an arranged marriage feel in a mediocre or bad state of health against 2% of the other women. They show signs of depression and have twice as many sleep-related problems as the other young women. 11% have suicidal thoughts against 3% for the others. 35% say they are in a state of desperation regarding their future against an average of 15% for the others.

Huma: What sort of violence are they subject to?

Maryse Jaspard: 31% are victims of psychological harassment against 3 to 6% for the other young women. As far as physical violence within the family is concerned: 40% have been slapped, 20% hit, 15% locked up, 16% thrown out of the house and 12% threatened with an arm or have suffered a murder attempt in the last twelve months. All these figures are three times as high as for the other young women. As for sexual attacks during their lives, 39% of the young women faced with arranged marriage have been victims of sexual violence during their life, against 13% for the others.

(1) Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques (National Institute of Demographical Studies). Maryse Jaspard is head of the Demography, Gender and Society unit at INED.

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