Forced marriage takes center stage at domestic violence conference

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The Honoring our Heartbeats tour to end forced marriages in the U.S. stopped in Houston with a community forum to highlight the issue (KTRK)

The "Honoring our Heartbeats" tour to end forced marriages in the U.S. stopped in Houston on Thursday with a community forum and performance to highlight the issue.

In partnership with Houston NGO's Daya and Voices Breaking Boundaries, the Tahirih Justice Center and Pomegranate Tree Group brought to life on stage a comic book about breaking free from a cycle of violence.

"We look at it as a love letter to our communities. This comic book (and performance) is an opportunity for the community to heal together," said Farrah Khan with Pomegranate Tree Group.

In 2011, the Tahirih Justice Center conducted the first U.S. survey on forced marriages happening inside America, and the results were astounding. It revealed more than 3,000 cases across the U.S. in just the two years prior.

"Forced marriage is something that definitely happens in the United States. It's really a hidden and neglected problem here," said Heather Heiman with Tahirih Justice Center.

"We've received calls from people that are as young as 5 years old to as old as in their 60s," she said. "And we see people being forced into marriage in a lot of different ways. Families might feel this is in the best interest of their child, or see it as a way to ... conform to a certain code of behavior."

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