The Complexities and Challenges of Researching Forced Marriage in the US

Brief

The Complexities and Challenges of Researching Forced Marriage in the US

Reflections from a Qualitative Study

Abstract

Forced marriage – when a person is coerced to marry against his or her will – is a unique and often hidden form of victimization. Yet little is known about the nature, scope, or root causes of this nuanced practice in the United States. This brief highlights the challenges encountered in efforts to research forced marriage, documenting methodological barriers and summarizing lessons learned. Key findings include creating research designs that are mindful of the cultural and religious context of forced marriage; developing study participant recruitment methods that minimize perceived risk of stigmatism; and offering meaningful incentives for respondents to encourage others in their social networks to participate.

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