Forced Marriages in the West

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 9Forcing someone into marriage in England and Wales now carries a maximum of a seven-year jail sentence under a new law that went into effect in June. It also criminalizes forcing a British national into marriage outside of the United Kingdom. This is to prevent families from taking their children to other nations and forcing them to marry. The new law is a result of estimates contained in a consultation paper published in 2011, which estimated there were at least 5,000 to 8,000 cases of forced marriage occurring each year.

A study in Ontario, Canada found 219 cases of forced marriage in a two-year period with a ¼ of the marriages involving people under the age of 18.

We often believe forced marriage is not an issue in more westernized nations, however a report by 60 Minutes in Australia revealed that over the last three years there have been 60 reported cases of forced marriage in Sydney. The Herald Sun reports there are as many as 1,000 forced marriages a year in Australia.

Rania Farrah thought she was going on an exciting vacation with her older brother traveling from her native home of Australia to the pyramids of Egypt, but her vacation turned into a five year nightmare. 60 Minutes of Australia recently featured Rania’s story.

At age 13, her father’s family took Rania captive. One week into the trip, Rania found herself first in Jordan and then eventually in Syria. During her time with her father’s family, Rania was subjected to a virginity test since her father knew that she had started smoking cigarettes and talking to boys. Despite the fact that she was a virgin, she was still beaten by her father and brother. When she told her brother that she had never been with a man, her brother replied, “your dad knows because if he hadn’t believed you, he would have killed you. …it’s common practice over there [Middle East]….it’s quite a normal thing to kill your daughter for not being a virgin.” She describes her father as “the most evil person I have ever met…he’s an awful, awful, awful man.”

Rania was forced into an Islamic lifestyle, going to an Islamic school and learning how to fast during Ramadan. She learned to shut down her emotions and play along with her family. She repeatedly asked her Australian mother to bring her home, only to be repeatedly told to wait. She 27530595_mlwas engaged to her second cousin that she barely knew.

Eventually she decided to try an escape. A friend gave her the phone number of the British Embassy. The Embassy said they could not help her until she was 18, so on her 18th birthday, Rania crept out of the house while her grandmother slept. She took a taxi to a hotel and met a representative of the British Embassy. She said, “If I didn’t get out I was going to kill myself that day.”

Thankfully after Rania was able to escape back to Australia where she resides today. She remains terrified of her father who has now also returned to Australia with his new wife and children. She has a restraining order against her father who has threatened to kill her, her mother and her sister.

Prayer Points:

Countless children in Western nations are potential victims of forced marriages. Despite laws in many western nations, numerous parents such as Rania’s father still attempt to preserve family honor by arranging marriages for their daughters. Pray that God will show these parents that just as God chose to love us, people make a choice to love each other. Love cannot be forced.

Many young women who have experienced forced marriage are not as fortunate as Rania and never have the opportunity to leave – rather they are most often subjected to a life of control and hardship. Pray that women in this situation will have opportunities to hear the gospel of Christ and learn of His love for them.

Matt. 9:38 (NIV) directs us to “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Those in forced marriages are part of the Lord’s harvest of souls. Pray and ask Him to open doors and send forth workers to share the truths of God’s kingdom with them – resulting in the salvation of many and lives redeemed for His purposes.

Child Marriage

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 8

Muhammad is the perfect example to Muslims, and as such they are supposed to model their lives after his. Muhammad had multiple wives during his lifetime, however his favorite wife was his third wife, Aisha. He married Aisha when she was a child of six, but did not consummate the marriage until she was nine.

Child marriage continues to be practiced in much of the Islamic world despite the fact that it is considered a human rights abuse. More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides. In developing nations one in seven girls marries before the age of 15, and nearly half of the 331 million girls in developing nations marry by their 20th birthday.

Child marriages create a cycle of poverty, gender inequality, abuse and numerous health problems. Many young brides are married to men who are much older than they are and often suffer abuse in the marriage. The leading cause of death worldwide for girls ages 15 to 19 are complications related to childbirth and pregnancy.

Child protection experts report that child marriages cause mental illness, suicides, teenage runaways, and even prostitution. The children are forced into prostitution because the marriages often end in divorce, and the child has no way to support herself.

In Afghanistan, girls can legally marry at age 15, and 57% of girls in the nation are married by the age of 16. 66% of girls in Bangladesh are married before the age of 18, and slightly more than 50% of girls in Mali, Mozambique, and Niger are married before the age of 18.

A 55 year old Afghani man with his 8 year old bride on the day of their engagement.
A 55 year old Afghani man with his 8 year old bride on the day of their engagement. Photo by Stephanie Sinclair.

Iran’s legal age of marriage for girls is only 13. One British newspaper reported that in Iran in 2010, 716 girls under the age of 10 had been married. There is no minimum age for girls to marry in Saudi Arabia, and statistics show that there are more than 5,500 child brides under the age of 14.

Western Islamic apologists often cover up the example of Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha, however it is clear that many continue to follow Muhammad’s example today. As Islam has spread to western nations, child marriage is also spreading.

Prayer Points:

Pray that the international community will speak out loud and clear regarding young girls being forced into marriage when they are too young to understand what is taking place or too young to take on this responsibility.

In nations where parents are taught in their culture that child marriage is acceptable, ask God to open their eyes to the truth that this will most likely be frightening and harmful to the young girls.

In Western nations teenage girls most often are given opportunities for further education, choose a future career and make their own decisions. Ask the Lord to give His heart to the parents (especially the fathers) to give their daughters opportunities in their lives – rather than child marriage.

Pray that the families will receive revelation of Almighty God’s desire to bring them true liberty and freedom – through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ramadan 2013 – Day 16 – Forced Marriages

2013 Ramadan PrayerA video of an 11-year-old Yemeni girl and her escape from a forced marriage has gone viral since being posted by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute). The Internet video posted on July 21, 2013 has received nearly 6 million views and brings the issue of forced marriage to the attention of people across the world. Most often forced marriages are between young girls and much older men.

Although most frequently occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, forced marriages of child brides can be found throughout the world. According to Plan UK, 14 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year that means that there are 38,461 marriages of girls under the age of 18 every day.

In Niger, Chad and Mali the rate of early or forced marriage is greater than 70% of all marriages. Countries in Europe with the highest rate of forced marriage are Georgia (17% of marriages), Turkey (14%), and Ukraine (10%). In Britain and France at least 10% of adolescents marry before the age of 18. The Tahirih Justice Center in the United States discovered that there have been over 3,000 forced marriages in the U.S. in the past two years. In Australia, figures released from 2011 revealed that more than 200 17-year-old girls were granted “prospective spouse visas” to enter the country with hundreds more 18, 19 and 20 year-olds. The majority of the teenagers were from the Middle East or Southeast Asia.

The reasons for forced marriages in western nations vary. In some cases parents may force their daughters to marry to keep them from becoming too “westernized” or for family honor or to gain economic security. Tahirih explains, “Whatever the rationale, the result may subject the woman or girl to severe and sustained harm, including domestic abuse, marital rape, and other forms of violence. It is important to note that child marriages are not limited to members of the Islamic faith, however Muslim men following the way of Muhammad can justify marrying children. “

In many Muslim traditions, Muhammad’s wife, Aisha is described as his most beloved wife. The Hadith (Bukhari 58:234 and Muslim 8:3309) describes Muhammad becoming engaged to Aisha when she was only six years old and consummating the marriage when she was nine. A prominent Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa in 2011 “asserting that there is no minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married ‘even if they are in the cradle.’”

Two Yemeni girls have died due to marriage at such a young age. A 13-year-old-girl died five days after her wedding after she suffered a rupture in her sex organs and bled to death, and another 12-year-old child died during childbirth. This practice whether due to religious or cultural practices is an abuse of the basic human rights of children.

Prayer Points:

Pray that the international community will speak out loud and clear regarding young girls being forced into marriage and possible abuse when they are too young to understand what is taking place or too young to take on this responsibility.

When parents are taught in their culture that child marriage is acceptable, ask God to open their eyes to the truth that this will most likely be frightening and harmful to the young girls.

Pray for strong Christian marriages to be an example to other cultures and religions of God’s plan for a husband to have one wife and to live in an atmosphere of love and mutual respect – rather than a subservient relationship based on fear.

Ramadan Prayer Day 4 – Family: The Real War on Women

Earlier this year, media networks began to report about “the war on women” as part of their coverage of the presidential primaries. Some described the war in economic terms as they reported on equal pay legislation. Others tend to have a definition of the war on women like the ACLU’s who defined the “War on Women” as the “legislative and rhetorical attacks on women and women’s rights taking place across the nation.” The ACLU’s examples of these attacks on women include waiting periods before abortion and ending Planned Parenthood funding.

The real war on women in the U.S. however is being waged by Shariah proponent groups who are attempting to hide behind the concept of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. One such group known as the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has launched a $3 million campaign to “help the public understand Shariah and counter the rise of Islamophobia in America.”

On the ICNA website Naeem Baig, Executive Director of the ICNA Council for Social Justice states, “[Because of the freedoms granted under the First Amendment] Jewish family law is acceptable in civil courts today…Muslims are as American as any other faith group, and are deserving of these rights as well.”

Shariah law however differs greatly from Judeo-Christian law. Under shariah law women are considered inferior to men. The Qur’an says, “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other…”(Q 4:34) Inheritance laws within Islam further reflect this attitude with a woman inheriting half of what a man inherits (Q 4:11). Her testimony in a court of law is also only worth half of the testimony of a man’s (Q 2:282). Under shariah a husband is allowed to beat (Q4:34) and rape (Q2:223) his wife.

Arguments are made that these types of laws would not apply to women living in the United States, however a report issued by the Center for Security Policy examined 50 Appellate Court decisions from 23 states where shariah law had been considered in the case. Out of these 50 cases, the majority affected women and children with shariah being considered in marriage law and child custody cases. You may download a copy of the comprehensive report here.

Although often blamed on cultural traditions rather than shariah law by Islamic apologists, women around the world and in recent years in the United States have been the victims of forced marriages, honor killings and female genital mutilation. The Tahirih Justice Center conducted a survey on forced marriage in immigrant communities in 2011. Based upon the survey, there were as many as 3,000 cases of forced marriage in the past two years in the U.S. although the survey did not reveal how many of the marriages were Islamic.

A study of worldwide trends in honor killings revealed 91% of honor killings in North America were due to unacceptable “westernization”. Examples in our nation include Noor Almaleki. An article in Marie Clare describes the vision Noor had for herself, “Having lived in the U.S. for 16 years, she held dreams of becoming a teacher, or marrying a man she loved, and most importantly of making her own choices.” Her Iraqi father felt his daughter was dishonoring his family by desiring to choose her own mate and dress in a western fashion. So in October of 2009 as Noor and a friend walked across a parking lot her father driving close to 30 miles an hour hit Noor and her friend. The impact knocked Noor onto a median so her father swerved his SUV onto the median and ran over his daughter fracturing her face and spine. He was eventually apprehended in England. From jail her father defended himself, “I’m not a criminal. I didn’t kill someone randomly…For an Iraqi, honor is the most valuable thing.”

Eighteen year old Amina Said and her seventeen year old sister, Sarah were shot in 2008 by their father also for being typical teenage girls. Amina and Sarah had a cell phones and dated American boys. Their father, an Egyptian Muslim wanted his daughters to be Muslims and to marry husbands that he would choose. He had threatened the girls and finally on New Years Day of 2008, he shot them. A 911 call by Sarah as she was dying identified her father as her killer. Yaser Abdel Said is still at large. Even if the girls’ father is apprehended under shariah law a Muslim father is not subject to retaliation for killing his own children according to The Reliance of the Traveller, a manual of Islamic Sacred Law (approved by al-Azhar University and the International Institute of Islamic Thought).

Although our series deals with Islam in the United States, a quick look at the rights of women in any Muslim majority country clearly shows how shariah laws subjugate women discriminating against them through laws that give men control in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. For more information and personal stories of women affected in our nation by shariah law, visit End the Shariah War on Women.


  • Pray for the truth about shariah to be revealed in all aspects of our society.
  • Pray that news outlets and law enforcement agencies will report truthfully when crimes against women are the result of religious law and not bow to political correctness.
  • Pray that state legislatures across the nation will begin to understand shariah law is being used in our nation and to pass legislation to stop any foreign laws from being considered in American Courts.
  • Pray for Muslim women and children in our nation who are most often the victims of the implementation of shariah law.