In 2020, AkiDwA initiated an investigation into coerced and early marriages in Ireland, prompted by several incidents reported by service providers and frontline services. These entities reached out to AkiDwA seeking insights into the dynamics of early and forced marriages based on cases they encountered. The organisation’s research revealed that forced and early marriages are under-researched in Ireland; however, such marriages are occurring both within the country and among Irish citizens abroad. From 2004 to 2015, more than 400 minors were married in the state, including a notable case in 2015 where a girl under the age of 16 was married to a 26-year-old groom. According to the Department of Justice, there have been investigations into one to two cases of forced marriage annually in recent years, but the actual number of cases is believed to be higher.

AkiDwA’s report on early and forced marriage (EFM) indicates that victims primarily belong to migrant communities in Ireland, including Afghan, Muslim, Indian, and other communities where arranged marriages are culturally normative in their countries of origin. Most documented cases in Ireland involved a young person who had been living in Ireland for several years, whose parents intended for them to marry someone from their country of origin. There have also been instances where migrant girls were kidnapped and brought into the country to be married off to older men. Additionally, there were cases involving Irish citizens with dual citizenship who were forced into marriage abroad.

Ireland has made legislative strides against this issue with the enactment of section 38 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018, which criminalizes forced marriage. Under this legislation, any marriage conducted where consent is obtained through emotional, physical, sexual, or financial duress is considered a criminal offense. However, the lack of data on early and forced marriages, limited awareness of the issue among frontline service providers, and a gap in understanding of the law within affected communities continue to pose challenges to its prevention in Ireland. Report can be found here https://akidwa.ie/human-trafficking-report-2020/