Switzerland has seen a sharp increase in the number of forced marriages involving victims age 15 or younger, according to the Centre of Competence against Forced Marriage (also known as Zwangsheirat), a Swiss organization for victims of forced marriage.
Swiss news organization The Local reports that the center has uncovered 26 cases of forced marriages where the victims were under the age of 16 this year alone. Some victims were as young as ten years old. In the previous ten years combined the center had found just five cases of forced marriage with a victim below the age of 16.
Anu Sivaganesan, the center’s director, told the local that most of the victims were immigrants from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. She added that the increase in asylum seekers to Switzerland likely played a factor in the sharp increase in victims.
Sivaganesan also told SwissInfo — a branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Company — that, “There is unfortunately a link with migration” and forced marriages. “It is always a heterosexual marriage,” she added later.
According to Sivaganesan, official statistics indicate that second generation migrants in Switzerland are actually less likely to marry outside of their nationality than first generation migrants, a trend she called “retraditionalization.”
Follow Peter Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson