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AFGHANISTAN

Three prosecuted in Sweden’s first forced marriage charge

Three men have been charged in southern Sweden for forcing a 23-year-old woman to marry a man in Afghanistan - after abducting her boyfriend in Sweden.

Three prosecuted in Sweden’s first forced marriage charge
Prosecutor Kristina Ehrenborg-Staffas in 2012. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

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.

STOCKHOLM

Stockholm Pride is a little different this year: here’s what you need to know 

This week marks the beginning of Pride festivities in the Swedish capital. The tickets sold out immediately, for the partly in-person, partly digital events. 

Pride parade 2019
There won't be a Pride parade like the one in 2019 on the streets of Stockholm this year. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

You might have noticed rainbow flags popping up on major buildings in Stockholm, and on buses and trams. Sweden has more Pride festivals per capita than any other country and is the largest Pride celebration in the Nordic region, but the Stockholm event is by far the biggest.  

The Pride Parade, which usually attracts around 50,000 participants in a normal year, will be broadcast digitally from Södra Teatern on August 7th on Stockholm Pride’s website and social media. The two-hour broadcast will be led by tenor and debater Rickard Söderberg.

The two major venues of the festival are Pride House, located this year at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull in Södermalm, and Pride Stage, which is at Södra Teatern near Slussen.

“We are super happy with the layout and think it feels good for us as an organisation to slowly return to normal. There are so many who have longed for it,” chairperson of Stockholm Pride, Vix Herjeryd, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Tickets are required for all indoor events at Södra Teatern to limit the number of people indoors according to pandemic restrictions. But the entire stage programme will also be streamed on a big screen open air on Mosebacketerassen, which doesn’t require a ticket.  

You can read more about this year’s Pride programme on the Stockholm Pride website (in Swedish). 

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