Teen girl who refused forced marriage placed in Quebec foster home

YOUTH PROTECTION

A Quebec Youth Court judge has ordered that a 16-year-old girl be placed in a foster home after her parents tried to marry her off against her will to a controlling fiancé who forced her to wear a hijab and decided what she could wear and who she could see.

The ruling by Judge Bruno Langelier said the girl is so afraid of reprisals from her family and the local muslim community that she doesn't want any contact with famiy members and didn't want to testify in person.

They cannot be identified because of the Youth Protection law.

A marriage contract entered into evidence had the signatures of the girl's father, her fiancé, witnesses from the community and an imam. There was no signature from the girl who was 15 at the time.

The judge ruled that the Civil Code of Quebec was not respected and it's clear the imam was violating the law.

The judge said while the planned marriage reflects the traditions of the family's customs back home, they don't apply in Quebec.

"There is only one rule of law and it applies to all residents of the territory of this province," said Langelier in his ruling.

The ruling describes the chaotic scene of the girl fleeing to her neighbour's home with her mother, brother and fiancé going over there to get her and members of the community also joining in, prompting police to arrive and intervene.

"People were aggressive, there was pushing and shoving. The fiancé tried to enter the neighbour's home, insisting and smashing his hand into the door, injuring himself," said the ruling.

La Presse reports that the neighbours in Victoriaville are from the same Middle Eastern country as the girl.

The girl described her fiancé as very controlling: deciding what she could hear, forcing her to wear the hijab, making her stay with him when she wasn't at school and preventing her from talking to people.

The judge said that the fiancé's testimony showed he controlled the teen with the father's approval - searching through her cellphone, deciding what she could wear and her choice of friends.

The judge said he didn't believe the fiancé when he testified he suggested to the girl to wear the hijab only before the marriage and that afterwards, she could decide otherwise.

The ruling said the father in his testimony tried to minimize the situation and dismiss the marriage contract as something banal.

"Here, all the girls from (our country) have changed, families are afraid. Our daughters before coming here, they listened to their mother; there, they want to leave - all my friends are afraid that their daughters will leave home," the father testified.

The Youth Protection Act "also protects the teen from psychological abuse so she doesn't have to submit to a marriage against her will while her family is forcing it on her."

"This teen has the right to be free and aspire to legitimate personal dreams such as marrying someone she loves, wanting to practice a profession, deciding for herself what to wear and who she sees. She has the right to freedom of conscience, of religion, to be able to decide her own future and to not be subjected to a fiancé who controls everything and forces her to wear the hijab. She wants to be free and liberate herself from the dictates of the men around her," said Langelier.

The teen will remain in the foster home until she turns 18.