As summer vacation comes to a close and students return to school, in a classroom somewhere in America there is an empty spot on the registration list where a girl’s name used to be. Perhaps she was whisked away on a family vacation, only to be married off to a man of her parents’ choosing. Maybe she was coerced into accepting a suitor and a life she never wanted. Or maybe she was married against her will without ever leaving the country, right under the noses of those who knew her. Whatever the case may be, this girl is one of an undocumented number of Americans whose lives are irrevocably changed by forced marriage each year.
As part of our efforts to stop this practice, one that goes largely unchallenged and that exists across cultures and religions, the AHA Foundation has compiled a collection of US forced marriage data. While more comprehensive surveys are urgently needed, we hope that this will inspire you to open your eyes to this invisible issue.