Three prosecuted in Sweden’s first forced marriage charge
TT/The Local · 21 Jun 2016, 07:00
Published: 21 Jun 2016 07:00 GMT+02:00
The woman’s father and two other men are accused of carrying out a series of crimes against her 21-year-old boyfriend in Lund. The indictment says they abducted, assaulted, robbed, extorted and sexually harassed him in November 2015.
On the same night as the alleged abduction, the woman’s father is accused of making illegal threats that involved pushing her into a marriage against her will.
“This is Sweden’s first forced marriage indictment as far as I know,” prosecutor Ulrika Engwall told news agency TT, adding that she believed all of the alleged crimes were honour-related.
Two of the suspects, the woman’s father and a close friend of his, are being held in custody. The third remains at large.
“The woman did not comply with what the family thought and continued the relationship [with the 21-year-old] after she was married off,” said Engwall.
Johan Sjöström, a lawyer representing the woman’s father, said his client rejected all of the allegations against him and insisted that his daughter had agreed to the marriage.
Sweden enacted a new law to combat forced marriage in July 2014. Despite a number of reports being filed, this is the first case to result in an indictment.
The Prosecution Authority's development centre in Gothenburg has examined the earlier preliminary investigations to see why they were dropped.
“We’ve been tasked by the government with finding out why there haven’t been any previous indictments,” said prosecutor Kristina Ehrenborg-Staffas.
“The nature of the crime means that there are often difficulties with evidence. Often prosceutors only have the girl’s version to go on.There’s a lack of witnesses willing to talk and opinion is often divided on whether a marriage has taken place,” she said.
Forced marriages were already illegal in Sweden prior to 2014 but were treated as part of a broader category of coercion crimes. The new law also criminalized a broader range of offences.
Anyone found guilty of forced marriage can be jailed for up to four years.
People convicted of tricking a victim into travelling abroad to be married off against their will can face two years in prison.