Forced marriage to be banned?
The government appointed investigator looking into forced marriage here in Sweden says he is considering proposing legislation to make it illegal. Yesterday, the Swedish government renewed guidelines for embassies abroad, making sure they pay special attention if they get calls for help from children who have been taken abroad to be married against their will. A recent survey suggests that over eight thousand children and teens here fear they may be at risk.
The vast majority of them have their roots in other countries, and government investigator and Supreme Court Judge, Göran Lambertz, says he is erring towards suggesting forced marriages be banned.
"It's normally a case where a young person is asked by his or her family to marry a cousin or someone in close relation, and where it is not accepted that he or she would say no", he told Radio Sweden, "There can be physical force, but more often it's pressure that is put against this person that doesn't allow her to say know."
Forced marriages, whilst against many UN conventions and in essence banned in Sweden, is not actually illegal here. On top of this, exceptions can be made to the age of consent for marriage, allowing under-age children to marry if they are pregnant, for example, and their culture demands they get married.
Lambertz, who was given the task of looking into the controversial subject last year, and who will present his final conclusions in 2012, says he is leaning towards banning both forced marriages and child weddings.
He is due to travel to Norway and the United Kingdom later this year to investigate what steps they have taken to deal with the problem, both in giving potential victims help at home so they do not get into trouble, but also tightening the laws to punish those who try to marry off their offspring against their will.
"Needless to say, it stirs up emotions when you hear about a young person who is actually being forced to leave the life that she would like to live and being forced to live in a totally different life," he adds, "but then there are also emotions on the other side, which say 'This is our culture, don't destroy what we are building up, this is our way to lead a family, and we don't want unecessary pressure put on us etc etc', so it's not an easy subject".