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Sweden moves to outlaw forced marriages

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09:04 CEST+02:00
Anyone in Sweden who forces someone else to get married against their will can be sent to prison, according to proposed legislation presented Thursday which aims to criminalize forced marriages.

"We want to criminalize child marriage and forced marriage. It should also be a punishable offence to take a child out of the country and marry them off there," Göran Lambertz, who heads the government inquiry tasked with drawing up new legislation, told Sveriges Television (SVT).

Lambertz has said previously that the new law included a proposal that anyone convicted of forced marriage could be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

On May 1st 2004, Sweden changed its marriage laws to make marriage under the age of 18 illegal, even if the marriage was entered into abroad.

Until then, it was possible for citizens of countries were the legal marrying age was under 18 to marry in Sweden from the age of 15 and up without requesting special permission.

But last year the government declared it wanted to see if further restrictions could be drawn up against so-called proxy marriages to try to ensure that marriages are entered into voluntarily by all parties.

The inquiry also proposes scrapping an exception to current marriage laws allowing people under the age of 18 to get married.

Sweden currently has an exemption for child marriages in cases where an underage girl is pregnant.

"We want to get rid of that. It shouldn't be possible to get an exemption for child marriage," Lambertz told Sveriges Television (SVT).

Lambertz will submit the inquiry's findings to justice minister Beatrice Ask and equality minister Nyamko Sabuni on Thursday.

According to him, around 300 people in Sweden live under the threat of being married off to someone against their will.

The inquiry also proposes creating a national body to improve coordination, education, and advising among public agencies and schools which deal with the issue.

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