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Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung

papatya, anonymous crisis shelter for girls and young women with a migration background
Mädchen mit Mütze Mädchen mit Kopftuch lachendes Mädchen Mädchen mit Kaffetasse lachendes Mädchen Mädchen mit Schleier

Coordination Centre against Abductions and Forced Marriages

From May 2013 untli April 2016, PAPATYA has been running a Coordination Centre against Abductions and Forced Marriages funded by “Aktion Mensch”.


This centre has grown out of our experience with the secret crisis shelter PAPATYA and the online counselling service SIBEL where we offer protection and assistance to girls and young women with a migrant background. For more than thirty years, our team of Turkish, Kurdish and German social pedagogues and psychologists have helped girls and young women who have suffered violence committed in the name of „honour“, have been forcibly wed and /or abducted to their parents‘ country of origin. Our crisis shelter PAPATYA has been a safe haven for over 1800 girls and young women. More than 600 victims of violence have received counselling via telephone or online through our service SIBEL.

Many of the girls and young women who turn to us are afraid that they will be taken to their parents‘ country of origin against their will or that they will be left there, once they resist their family’s wedding plans or if it is found out that they have been seeing a boy in secret, Once they are in Turkey, in Iraq, the Lebanon or in another country, usually without their passport or mobile phone, they are helpless and will find it almost impossible to resist marrying a man they don’t love. In a situation like this, help is hard to find. It is thus all the more important to prevent situations like abductions to the parents‘ home country from happening at all. The girls affected usually are of a migrant background, between 14 and 21 years of age, and they will hold either a German or a foreign passport.

The Coordination Centre against Abduction and Forced Marriage is the first central port of call which offers assistance nationwide.

The Coordination Centre’s brief:

Prevention – the Coordination Centre offers seminars and events to raise consciousness about the reality of abductions and offers girls and young women who fear such abductions specialised counselling to evaluate their risk and to prevent them from leaving the country. Our information material and website make the public and potential victims aware of the danger of abductions taking place.

Assistance and coordination of assistance after an abduction – If an abduction has taken place, the coordination centre offers specialised advice to probe the possibilities of a repatriation. We work closely with institutions, lawyers and organisations in Germany, Europe and the countries of origin of the abducted girl and young women and can profit from our long-standing contacts in the regions. Affected girls and young women can contact us via email, at any place and any time of day, via our online counselling service SIBEL. Through SIBEL, we have already managed in some cases to find a way back to Germany. Friends, teachers and anybody willing to help are also welcome to contact us for advice.

Assistance after repatriation – As we are closely connected to the crisis shelter PAPATYA, the Coordination Centre has years of experience with the psychological plight of abductees and the risks they face after returning to Germany. The Coordination Centre will offer assistance finding appropriate coping strategies and give advice as to matters of becoming anonymous, finding accommodation and protection. It will conduct a risk analysis and cooperate if advisable with the police.

Extending assistance – Abductions have so far been neither systematically reported nor documented, we even lack a consistent definition of what constitutes an abduction. We know very little about the actual number of abductions taking place or how they happen, apart from information gleaned from some isolated cases, but we estimate a large number of unreported cases. The Coordination Centre is the first to register cases of abduction for the purposes of forced marriage and to raise awareness about the reality of abduction. It also elucidates the scope of legal options available with a goal to increase the assistance that can be rendered in the case of an abduction having taken place.