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Immigrant Men Are Forced to Marry, Too
by Katrin Elger
Stories of Turkish girls forced into arranged marriages in Germany are well known. But hardly anyone talks about the men who are forced into marriage -- sometimes harassed, blackmailed or beaten.
Azad will never forget that day in September 2005. It was the day of his wedding in Stuttgart, but for Azad it was filled with hours of shame. "It's really bad, when you have to force yourself to have sex with a relative," says the 20-year-old Kurd. "It's sick. With my first cousin."
When Azad was 16, his parents informed him that he was to be engaged to a cousin from eastern Anatolia, who was also 16. When he refused, his mother threatened to commit suicide. "You will find me hanging from a rope in the basement," she said. At 17, Azad and the cousin were married in a civil ceremony during a family vacation in Turkey. When he was 18 his bride came to Germany, and ornate wedding invitations were sent out. The wedding ceremony took place in a midrange hotel in southwestern Germany. "It was pure horror," says Azad.
The stories of Turkish girls in Germany who are forced into arranged marriages, beaten and abused, have been told many times. Authors like Necla Kelek and Serap Çileli have described them in detail. But it is largely unknown that many young Muslim men are also forced to marry against their will and subjected to violence at the hands of family members. Hardly any organized assistance programs exist for these men, and many are too ashamed to talk about their fates. Azad, filled with fear and shame, was unwilling to use his real name for this story.
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