Ayaan Hirsi Ali notes that "We live in a unique moment today and I think Muslim women...can take advantage of that opportunitiy....There is a unique opportunity today because there is a struggle for freedom within Muslim countries," she said. "The future is not bleak but we must take advantage of this opportunity for change. It is time that. Muslim women become their own guardians."
Kevin Bales, co-founder of Free the Slaves, opened by noting that he had asked Afghan women why they were still walking several steps behind their husband and they answered simply: landmines. But that was the only light note in his comments about the problems of forced marriage.
Forced marriage is not marriage, forced marriage is enslavement, says @kevin_bales of @FreetheSlaves #twconf12
He called women in forced marriage: bride slaves. Bales said that like slavery forced marriage comes in many forms. Forced Marriage is as much slavery as debt bondage, child soldiers, chattel and peonage, he said.
Forced Marriage, Bales said, also has complex forms that include debt exchange, non-consensual marriage, the sale of wives and religious practice.
"The man said you have become my wife and I have just given money to your father, and then he started touching me" said a woman in eastern congo, forced into marriage because of her father had run up a large bar tab, says @Kevin_Bales of @FreetheSlaves #twconf12
Bales pointed out that in Congo his group worked with women who had been given in exchange to pay her father's bar tab. @trustwomenconf #twconf12