Muslims marry their cousins

Migrants: Relatives, engaged, married!

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Hatice Korkmaz slowly shakes her head as she digs the crumpled photo of Yüksel out of her wallet. She has crumpled it up a few times but never thrown it away. This time, too, she puts it back in the little pocket. She has been divorced from her husband for three months. When she received the official divorce papers, a wish and a nightmare were irrevocably fulfilled. She won't have to see her ex-husband again. But his relatives don't want anything to do with her since the separation. And because Yüksel is her cousin, his relatives are also her relatives. With the exception of Gül, her younger sister, all family members have officially broken off contact or limited it to a "good day" at random meetings in the supermarket. Her father sometimes secretly calls her when he's home alone. "I'm embarrassed to them," says Hatice with a dry laugh. She finds it difficult to cope with the rejection. She always wanted her parents to be proud of the oldest daughter. "That's the only reason I married my cousin," she says.

In Germany, marriages between cousins ​​are allowed, but socially frowned upon and extremely rare. In traditional migrant families, on the other hand, it is often good form for the children to marry a member of the family. In addition to the marriage between cousin and cousin, connections between uncle and niece are also possible. A current special evaluation of the "Report on the living situation, safety and health of women in Germany" by the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth has shown that around 15 percent of women of Turkish descent in Germany are married to a relative by blood. Older studies come to 20 percent for Turkish women and around 9 percent for Greek women.

"Often it is already clear in childhood that cousins ​​will marry. When they are old enough, that is, during puberty, the parents negotiate the marriage among themselves," explains Yasemin Yadigaroglu. The Turkish social scientist leads the Duisburg-based campaign "Relatives marriage? No thanks!", Which aims to educate parents, teachers and young people about the risks of marriage among family members. For two years now, Yadigaroglu has been giving lectures at schools and advising young people who are being pressured by their families to marry their cousins. Although the campaign has so far only been set up on a local level, Yadigaroglu is being attacked. Not only representatives of the major Islamic associations Milli Görus and Ditib condemn Yadigaroglu's commitment as stigmatizing. They get help from some migration researchers who quickly warn of Islamophobia. "On the other hand, some experts exaggerate the problem, giving the impression that all Turkish women live in arranged marriages or are married to a relative," criticizes Monika Schröttle, who conducts research at the Institute for Gender and Violence Research at Bielefeld University and the special evaluation of the report Has looked after the life situation, safety and health of women in Germany.

Yadigarolgu offers most opponents, regardless of which side, hardly any surface to attack. It is not suitable for polarizing, but confuses those who have holed up behind overly stereotyped notions of migrants. Unlike Hatice, who waits in a short skirt and raspy hair, Yasemin Yadigaroglu wears a headscarf with a fashionable blazer, describes herself as a very devout Muslim and, if necessary, argues eloquently with quotes from the Koran against the marriage of relatives. She sees no contradiction in this. "It's not about Islam, but about patriarchal family structures and traditional traditions," she says.

It's not just about women either. Arranged relatives marriages affect young men as well. "I don't want to condemn anyone, I want to enlighten them. When they are married, the young people are often not older than 15 or 16 years old and thus much too young to be able to judge what they are getting into," says Yadigaroglu. She would therefore like to see larger preventive campaigns like the ones that have been in place in Turkey for a number of years.