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Sweden mulls jail term for forced marriage

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08:26 CET+01:00
Forcing someone into marriage against their will could soon carry a punishment of up to two years imprisonment, according to an inquiry tasked with formulating a law criminalizing the practice under Swedish law.

The inquiry, which will be completed later in the spring, also calls a halt to the existing possibility of special dispensation to allow minors to marry.

"My view has always been that we need a law against forced marriage and that the child marriage dispensation needs to be removed," said equality minister Nyamko Sabuni to news agency TT.

"At the same time we have to be show humility. When an inquiry is ongoing we have to consider both the pros and cons."

Forced marriage and marriage among minors is already banned in Sweden, but Sabuni argues that a criminalization is required in order to underline the seriousness of the offence.

"It is important that people know that if they commit a crime then they will be punished for it," she told TT.

The minister explain that removing the existing dispensation for child marriages would be a protection for girls.

Dispensation is currently allowed if the girl is pregnant and if extra-marital pregnancy is not permitted within the girl's cultural group.

"This means that there is pressure to get pregnant. By taking a stand that no child shall be married off, not even if they are expecting a child, we can remove this type of pressure," according to Nyamko Sabuni.

Legislation is however not the only means by which to tackle honour-related crimes, Sabuni argued.

"It is even more important how we work in practice, within the social services, police and at schools. The individual victim has to feel able to report the matter and to feel secure when receiving support and protection."

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