Cross-party unity on child marriage ban

1:36 min

Sweden’s opposition parties have decided against asking the parliament’s committee on civil affairs to present a bill to ban child marriage.

The decision was taken after a meeting on Friday in which it became clear that the government plans to launch an inquiry into child marriage laws, Ewa Thalen Finné, the opposition Moderate Party's spokesperson on the civil affairs committee, told Swedish Radio.

Sweden’s justice minister, Morgan Johansson, and the minister for children, gender and equality, Åsa Regnér, met with representatives of the Left Party and of the Alliance opposition parties on Friday morning to discuss measures against child marriage.

The meeting was called after the Liberal Party, which is part of the Alliance, suggested that the parliament’s committee on civil affairs should act without the government’s official approval to formulate a bill that would mean no child marriages are officially recognised in Sweden.

However, Swedish Radio reported on Thursday that the government already intends to investigate the possibilities of such a legal amendment and that the draft bill is expected to be presented later this year, according to the justice minister.

“We think it is important to clarify the regulations on this matter. At the same time, it is also complicated. It involves things like property settlements, inheritance rights and other matters that you have to look at as far as consequences go. But it is important to send a clear message that child marriage is not allowed in Sweden,” Johansson said.

Robert Hannah, the Liberal Party’s spokesperson on the civil affairs committee, said that “it is very good that the government has met the Liberals’ demand, but we are still critical of how long it has taken. They have known about this, about the girls who are trapped in child marriages, since the autumn of 2015.”

Hannah added that the Alliance politicians will make sure that the government acts fast on its promise.