The study, commissioned by the Ministry for Family Affairs, threw up a number of surprises, as well as confirming much that is already known about forced marriages, said the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday which had advance access to the report, due to be launched the same day.
Nearly all of those concerned came from migrant families, with the most common country of origin of the parents being Turkey, followed by the former Yugoslavia and Iraq, according to the report.
More than 80 percent of the parents concerned were Muslim, while nearly 10 percent were Yazidist, a Kurdish religion, and more than three percent were Christians.
Yet the study’s authors, from the Hamburg-based Lawaetz Foundation and the women’s organisation Terre des Femmes, warned against regarding the problem as an Islamic one – factors such as tradition, images of masculinity and poverty should not be ignored, they stressed.
The 160-page report was based on information from 830 advice centres across the country, which had helped around 3,400 people in 2008 – as well as accounts from schools and migrant organisations.
This could skew the apparent share of Germans among those reported, as they might be more likely to approach such organisations than people who had only been in the country a short while and did not have good German language skills.
The victims of forced marriage said it was their fathers who exerted the most pressure upon them.
The authors said it was notable that forced marriages also featured in families where the father had professional training or had graduated from high school – more than six percent of those examined.
Yet in general the fathers had the average educational levels of their migrant peers and nearly 90 percent of the victims’ mothers had no formal education.
The main motive for the forced marriage was the image of the family, the victims reported – it was often a mechanism to stop unwanted friendships and even as a reaction to the homosexuality of a child – around five percent of those concerned were male.
Around a quarter of the victims said they were threatened with death, while more than half said their relatives used violence against them and more than 70 percent said threats and blackmail were used to push them into marriages they did not want.
The government’s Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that last year’s criminalisation of forced marriages and right of return for people forced into marriages abroad who previously would have lost their German residency permit for being away for too long, must be better advertised among the migrant community in Germany.
“We need to offer more advice and help, to men as well,” she told the paper, and called for teachers to be able to react better to signs of a forced marriage among their pupils.
“Forced marriage must play a greater role in teacher training in the future,” said Böhmer, while also calling for more action from the countries where the forced marriages are conducted.