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Department of Informatics People and Computing Lab

Forced Marriages

Supporting People Affected by Forced Marriage in Switzerland through Digital Transformation

There has been a growing interest in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in research with marginalized communities, and topics such as women's health and well-being are gaining much-needed importance. Much work has focused on domestic violence (DV), intimate partner violence (IPV), and related preventive technologies, but little research has focused on forced marriages. In cooperation with the Swiss Centre of Competence against Forced Marriage (CoCFM), in her PhD, Nimra aims to set a course for further advances toward design practices for people affected by forced marriages and people in vulnerable contexts. Through a participatory and a collaborative approach, her research considers the affected of forced marriages as an active part and embraces their experience and meaning-making as legitimate sources of knowledge. 

In this work, we aim to understand the role that technology currently plays in the help- and support-seeking activities of people affected by forced marriage, including 1) people who are in forced marriages, 2) people who are at risk of forced marriage, and 3) people who have left forced marriages. In particular, we are interested in uncovering how people make use of information technologies to help them gain awareness of their situation, their rights and options, and how these activities and technologies may inform the steps they take towards escaping or avoiding a forced marriage and seeking or maintaining safety and independence. We also aim to investigate how digital technologies are employed for community building and outreach regarding forced marriage, for example, for sharing experiences and information. One key area of focus in this research will be on understanding the various culturally-specific needs of people affected by forced marriage concerning the information they seek and the practices they employ. The population affected by forced marriage is highly diverse regarding age, gender, education level, religion, and nationality. The practice of forced marriage is closely tied to an individual’s culture. For example, the type of information that may be helpful to a Fundamentalist Mormon American woman attempting to leave a forced marriage may be different from that needed by a Pakistani Muslim woman who fears her parents will send her to Pakistan to be married against her will. Therefore, it is necessary to develop an understanding that considers cultural context. 

Nimra's research has received the UN SDG Impact Award from the faculty of economics and informatics at the UZH and is being funded by the DIZH.

Selected Publications

  1. Nimra Ahmed, Designing Technology for People Affected by Forced Marriage in Switzerland University of Zurich 2021 Bachelor Thesis