Millions of young women and girls around the world are trapped in a forced marriage, without love, without escape – and without a future.

On the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, lovers promise one another eternal faithfulness – symbolised by countless "love padlocks". But suddenly there are thousands of padlocks that have a completely different meaning: women who have been forced into marriage against their will. Passers-by can open such a padlock for a small donation, and thus symbolically free a woman from a forced marriage.

Take part in our Initiative Against Forced Marriage – whether on the internet, on the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne or soon in one of many other cities around the world.


Every year, alone over10 million girls and young womenaround the world, under the age of 18, become victims of forced marriage. That means, there is a forced marriage every three seconds.

It is not only women far away from Germany who are forced into marriages, but also right on our doorsteps. Forced marriage is a crime which takes place in secret. The young victims cannot defend themselves because they are dependent on their families. They live and serve under slave-like conditions and in many cases are sexually abused by their husbands. They suffer in silence.

Some women enter forced marriages in Germany. Others are lured to their homeland under false pretences and are married there against their wills. They lose their freedom overnight.

In Germany, every year at least
3,500 girls and women seek help because they are threatened or affected by a forced marriage. The number of unreported cases is far higher.

Those threatened by or already affected by forced marriage need our help. Women's refuges offer protection against husbands or families for as long as it takes to find a solution. Specialised helplines can prevent women from ever becoming victims of forced marriages in the first place. Organisations are working nationally and internationally to strengthen the rights of women. The goal is to change social conditions in such a way that no woman will ever have to defend themselves from a forced marriage ever again.

With your donation you will be equally supporting both the UN trust fund to end violence against women and agisra e.V., the informa- tion helpline for female migrants and refugees based in Cologne, Germany.

FREE THE FORCED is a UNA Germany initiative. The UNA Germany informs about the goals, institutions and activities of the United Nations. As an independent non-profit organisation which is above party lines, the UNA Germany campaigns for the right of women to lead their lives with dignity and without fear and distress.

The German committee of UN Women campaigns for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and is involved in gender equality and the strengthening of women’s rights. UN Women runs the UN TRUST FUND to end violence against women.

agisra is a multi-cultural advice helpline for female migrants and refugees. Amongst others, agisra supports women who are threatened or affected by forced marriage and offers anonymous psychosocial care, free of charge. Offers crisis intervention and support for women in distress.