• 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)

Today's headlines
Bundesbank warns of ECB 'change of course'
Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann: Photo: DPA

Bundesbank warns of ECB 'change of course'

The head of Germany's powerful Bundesbank sharply criticised what he called a radical new approach by the European Central Bank of easy money, in an interview published Sunday. READ  

MH17 Crash
Families of German MH17 victims to sue
Australian and Dutch investigators examine a piece of debris of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane. Photo: EPA/DPA/ Igor Kovalenko

Families of German MH17 victims to sue

Relatives of German victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 plan to sue Ukraine and its president for criminal negligence for not closing the country's airspace, a lawyer said Sunday. READ  

Sport
Wonder goal puts new boys Paderborn on top
Paderborn players celebrate after defeating Hanover 2-0 to go top of the Bundesliga. Photo: DPA

Wonder goal puts new boys Paderborn on top

Promoted Paderborn went top of the Bundesliga helped by an extraordinary 80-metre goal at Hanover on Saturday as champions Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw by struggling Hamburg. READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Oktoberfest opens to toast millions
Celebrities Carolin Reiber and Marianne Sägebrecht raise their glasses at Oktoberfest 2014. Photo: DPA

Oktoberfest opens to toast millions

Germany's world-famous Oktoberfest kicked off Saturday with the traditional tapping of the first barrel of beer, as millions of revellers are set to soak up the frothy atmosphere in the 16-day annual extravaganza. READ  

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola
A Liberian man holds his daughter as they wait for treatment for suspected Ebola symptoms in Monrovia. Photo: DPA

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

Germany and France will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany made it harder Friday for people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia to apply for asylum after lawmakers classified the three Balkan countries as safe, with respect for basic rights. READ  

German Muslims rally against extremism
Muslims pray in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on Friday outside a mosque which was damaged in an arson attack. Photo: DPA

German Muslims rally against extremism

Muslims across Germany held a day of prayers and rallies on Friday to condemn both Islamic extremism and a backlash against their faith that has seen arson attacks on mosques. READ  

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup
The trainers on the air strip in Hohn, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: Bundeswehr.

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup

Military trainers flew to northern Iraq from Germany on Friday, ahead of a huge delivery of weapons from the German military, but things didn’t initially go as planned. READ  

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches
Photo: DPA

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches

UPDATE: Munich will play host to four Euro 2020 games, European football’s governing body Uefa announced in Geneva on Friday, but London was the real winner. READ  

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils
The scene by the bus stop outside the school in Diepholz. Photo: DPA

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils

An 18-year-old drove into a group of students outside a school in western Germany on Friday morning, injuring several. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,348
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd