Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Shirin Musa

2021 Fellow

Director, Femmes for Freedom

VVEngage 2021

Shirin Musa is the Director of the organization Femmes for Freedom. She coined, defined, and introduced the concept of marital captivity – a situation in which women are unable to terminate their religious marriage – in Dutch society and politics. She successfully campaigned for an expanded definition of forced marriage. Due to this, denying women the right to a religious divorce was recognized by Dutch law; it became a criminal act in the Dutch Penal Code which led to an important legislative change in the Civil Code. Shirin was also the driving force behind the creation of the Dutch Forced Marriage Unit, improvement of the women’s shelters, better assistance to victims of genital mutilation, and revising measures related to hymen checks and operations.

Shirin is active on several fronts (grassroots, legal, political, scientific and media) in order to initiate fundamental and systemic changes both domestically and internationally. She regularly writes opinion pieces in leading Dutch newspapers. Shirin’s work is innovative and successful and she therefore received several Dutch prizes and nominations. The Dutch feminist monthly magazine Opzij included her in the list of 100 most influential women in the Netherlands. The impact of her work and campaigns were also highlighted in international media such as The Economist, BBC, Haaretz, Times for Israel, RTBF, and Causeur.