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The right to marry is a fundamental human right. So is the right to divorce and remarry. Marital captivity is forced marriage: it forces women to stay in a marriage they don’t want to be in. A woman’s rights to marry, divorce and remarry are enshrined in:

  • ECHR: Art. 8 and 12
  • CEDAW: Art. 16
  • Istanbul Convention: Art. 37

Marital captivity is a form of violence against women. It leaves victims vulnerable to extortion, manipulation and abuse. It has serious consequences that heavily impact the lives of victims, including, but not limited to: 

  • She is unable to start new relationships or remarry, facing exclusion and stigmatization from her community.
  • Her husband can claim her day and night, as a wife’s marital obedience is the norm in patriarchal communities.
  • She can be prosecuted for bigamy and adultery in her country of origin if she enters a new relationship.
  • In countries where women fall under male guardianship, they are not allowed to travel without their husband’s permission nor renew her passport, preventing them from visiting family and loved ones.














"[...] eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women: [...] the same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution." - CEDAW, Art. 16
"Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the intentional conduct of forcing an adult or a child to enter into a marriage is criminalised." - Istanbul Convention, Art. 37
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family
life, his home and his correspondence." - ECHR, Art. 8.1.
"Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and
to found a family, according to the national laws governing the
exercise of this right."- ECHR, Art. 12 
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