Each year, about 60 million women are forced to marry against their will. They have to face lives without love, and lots of them are trying hard to end such miserable situations. There has been a need to raise awareness of the problem and create a solution to help its victims.
On the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, Germany, couples fix padlocks to the railings to ensure everlasting love. There were about 160,000 padlocks on the bridge, and Cheil Germany put extra 3,500 blue padlocks spelling out “FREE THE FORCED”. Each lock, representing a woman who was suffering from forced marriage, displayed a QR code for passers-by to scan with their smartphones. Scanning the QR code directs them to a website where more information is laid out. They can then donate to get a four-digit code allowing them to open the padlock and take it with them. The padlock is a reminder of the forced marriage issue and a thank-you for their donation. As padlocks were removed, the slogan “FREE THE FORCED” also disappeared.
Within just three days, almost all the padlocks were unlocked, removing the slogan. It also created a lot of buzz on social media, including over 570,000 unique people talking about the campaign and sharing pictures. With the help of mainstream media, the campaign reached 5.3 million people in the first three days. Due to the positive feedback, there are talks to expand the campaign to other big cities too.