IPS captures the moving story of forced marriage survivor turned advocate, Vidya Sri. Sri endured a forced marriage for 17 years before she mustered the courage to leave. When, at age 40, she defied tradition and obtained a divorce, Sri recalls, “My sense of balance, sense of right and wrong completely changed and fell back into place…it was like a fog had lifted.” Sri recently founded Gangashakti.org, a survivor-led grassroots movement working to empower victims and eliminate forced marriage. GJI’s Julia Alanen told IPS:
[The] U.K. has been dealing with this issue head on for years. They’ve passed national legislation, they’ve created a forced marriage unit and a forced marriage hotline. There are training manuals for educators, healthcare providers, social services providers, lawyers and there are resources for both the advocates and victims. In the U.S., we have none of that.
Alanen predicts that U.S. advocacy around the issue of forced marriage will increase dramatically in the coming years. READ MORE: Forced Marriages Still an Ugly Secret, By Charundi Panagoda, IPS (January 26, 2012).