• Germany edition
 
Marched down the aisle
Photo: DPA

Marched down the aisle

Published: 15 Nov 2011 13:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Nov 2011 13:50 GMT+01:00

According to a marriage custom in Turkey, the bride usually wears a red sash around her waist. It symbolizes the blood expected on her wedding night – considered proof of virginity. This disturbing tradition is not just followed in rural regions. It's practised by almost all religious Turks – even those born and raised in Germany.

But what's often ignored is whether the woman – or her husband – actually wants to wed. The fairly common ritual of forced marriage is not always easy to discern. Researchers studying immigration speak of forced marriages when people are pressured into tying the knot by threatening them with psychological or physical violence.

That still happens often enough in Germany, 50 years after the first Turkish “guest workers” arrived. A recent study presented by Family Minister Kristina Schröder and Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer concluded that forced marriages aren't uncommon in Muslim communities in Germany and also affect young people.

But why has this condemnable ritual endured? Why do these people – according to the study mostly Turks – not adapt and identify with the values in German society? Apparently, not even some born in Germany do.

Integration, of course, is a two-way street. Ideally, it involves a majority willing to accept others and a minority that wants to be a part of that society. But many guest workers who came here didn't want to be a part of Germany. They wanted to earn money and return to their native country as soon as possible. Instead, they ended up staying. But it appears that many didn't change their way of thinking. Many guest workers brought over their families to Germany and proceeded to live fairly insular lives in immigrant-dominated neighbourhoods, making it difficult for their children to gain a foothold in German society.

Many remained strangers in their adopted country and Germany failed to integrate this growing minority. It's true that immigrants today are provided with an unprecedented level of support to become part of German society. But many immigrants still feel like unwelcome guests in Germany. They are unwilling to entrust their daughters (or sons) to people they aren't familiar with, which is why they often choose a partner for them from their own culture.

That's one part of the problem. The other is that there's very little interest in the issue in Germany. Blatant cases of so-called “honour killings” – such as the widely-reported murder of Hatun Sürücu by her brother in Berlin in 2005 – do spark outrage. But what's often ignored is that psychological and physical violence often begins much earlier.

This probably has to do with the fact that forced marriages are simply unthinkable for most Germans. Such traditions are so far removed from their world that they aren't even aware of their existence here. Every now and again, the problem is thrust into the public consciousness when the popular Sunday night Tatort crime show focuses on it or when Fatih Akin, the famous German director of Turkish origin, wins a prize for a film on a similar topic.

But most Germans wouldn't dream that the Kurdish girl at school who spoke perfect German or the Afghan boy they played football with and who was crazy about blondes would be affected by this backward ritual. But it's precisely people like these who end up in forced marriages, the study shows.

Most victims of forced marriages in Germany have German nationality. A third of the girls and women forced to get married are born here. We must take the issue seriously. We must ask questions and intervene. Simply looking away is not a solution.

This editorial was published with the kind permission of ZEIT ONLINE, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Prisoners of War pictured in 1918. Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825

Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online

Hundreds of thousands of rare records and images from World War I have been put online by the German government, ahead of Monday's 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict. READ  

Merkel to push for 'swift' EU Russia sanctions
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin chat with Fifa President Sepp Blatter (c) in Brazil before the 2014 World Cup final. Photo: DPA

Merkel to push for 'swift' EU Russia sanctions

UPDATE: Russia's failure to help quell the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and fully assist the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 demanded a tough response, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday. READ  

Löw to remain Germany coach to 2016
Joachim Löw (l) during a coaching session in Brazil. Photo:DPA

Löw to remain Germany coach to 2016

UPDATE: Joachim Löw will remain German national football team coach following the World Cup victory in Brazil, he confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
A pro-Palestine demonstration in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests

Demands are growing in Germany for the prosecution of protesters in Berlin, Frankfurt and other cities who led anti-Semitic chants and incited violence against Jews over Israel's military offensive in Gaza. READ  

The Local List
The 12 best words in the German language
Photo: DPA

The 12 best words in the German language

The Local List has covered all aspects of German words, from the untranslatable to the longest. But we've never done a ranking of what are simply the best words in the German language, until now... READ  

Munich police find 49 refugees on one train
Police arrested three Italians for allegedly driving 25 Syrians into Germany on Tuesday. Photo: Bundespolizei

Munich police find 49 refugees on one train

Police in Munich found 49 refugees on one train which arrived at the city’s central station from Italy on Monday night. Officers in the Bavarian capital have reported a “huge increase” in the number of people arriving illegally over the last few weeks at Munich's train terminal. READ  

Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Coach Joachim Löw ensured his team had a yoga instructor with them at all times. Photo: DPA

Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home

Germany’s World Cup winning football team have revealed one of the secrets of their success in Brazil this summer – yoga. READ  

Court jails student for protest at far-right ball
Josef S. at the court in Vienna. Photo: DPA

Court jails student for protest at far-right ball

UPDATE: A German student, accused of being the ringleader of far-left demonstrators who protested at Vienna’s far-right Akademikerball, has been jailed, despite questionable evidence of his involvement. READ  

Lufthansa cancels Tel Aviv flights
A Lufthansa Boeing 747 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa cancels Tel Aviv flights

Lufthansa said on Tuesday it was suspending its service to Tel Aviv until at least Thursday over security concerns amid the escalating Gaza conflict. READ  

German state bans Hells Angels' logo online
Photo: DPA

German state bans Hells Angels' logo online

Displaying the symbols of notorious motorcycle gangs the Hells Angels and the Bandidos is forbidden across Germany, but that ban has now extended to the internet. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Joachim Löw: A career in pictures
Photo: Submitted
Society
Is this expat cat the world's oldest?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
National
Heatwave to bring highs of 36C to Germany
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Should Germany follow France and ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,262
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd