Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sweden Investigates Forced and Child Marriage

You would be shocked to learn that - while many young people around the world look forward to summer holidays, a good number of minors in Sweden get nervous - as the holidays approach. Every summer holiday, some young people in Sweden are forced to travel to the home countries of their parents - where they become victims of forced and child marriage.

Simply defined, forced marriage refers to marriage without the consent of one or both parties. Forced marriage is not uncommon in parts of Africa, Middle East and Asia. In Europe and the U.S., the practice is predominant among immigrant communities. Sweden is one of the European countries that face the problem of forced marriage. This explains why the government of Sweden has made a move in the right direction - the government has launched an investigation aimed at tightening a ban on forced and child marriages.

On 20 May 2010, according to The Local, Sweden's Integration Minister - Nyamko Sabuni and Minister of Justice - Beatrice Ask, revealed, in a joint statement, that forced and child marriages in Sweden are often entered into abroad and that the victims are often victims of "honor-related violence and oppression". The ministers announced that the ultimate aim of the investigation is to gather information on forced and child marriage and to suggest measures that would adequately protect victims of such flawed marriages. The investigation will be headed by Göran Lambertz, former Chancellor of Justice.

This commendable move by the Swedish government comes less than 2 weeks after the marriage of a 49-year-old Nigerian Senator - Ahmed Sani Yerima, to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl, shocked and outraged human rights activists.

We need more democracies - like Sweden - to send a strong message that forced and child marriage is an unacceptable practice that shames us all. Governments should follow in the foot steps of Sweden and outlaw forced and child marriage - even if entered into abroad.

Forced and child marriage is a violation of human rights and rights of the child. This is the case because the practice deprives victims of their freedom and autonomy of person. There is no denying that forced and child marriage exposes young people to physical and mental abuse, exploitation and sexual abuse.

In Sweden, marriage under the age of 18 is illegal - even if entered into abroad.

1 comment:

  1. It is easy to say it than do it. That Sweden is trying there best is wonderful but, because this situation is about young people who get oppressed by their parents or someone else in the family, find it very difficult turning against their family/ parents. Not everyone has that strength.


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