Couple sentenced to jail over daughter’s forced marriage

Couple sentenced to jail over daughter's forced marriage
File photo: TT
A couple has been sentenced to jail for forcing their daughter into marriage, the second judgment of its kind in Sweden.

The couple in Västerås, central Sweden, married their 19-year-old daughter to a cousin in Kurdistan against her will, SVT Västmanland reported on Wednesday.

The girl had begun a relationship with a man of her own age three years earlier, and her parents allegedly arranged the marriage in order to “reestablish their daughter’s honour”.

But she contacted Sweden’s National Association Against Honour Related Violence (GAPF) and her parents were arrested when they returned to Sweden following the wedding.

Both the girl’s parents were sentenced to one year in prison for forced marriage, while her father was sentenced to an additional four months for molestation ('ofredande') relating to verbal and physical abuse of the girl, whom he reportedly hit several times and called a “whore”.

The court also ordered them to pay their daughter compensation of a total of 90,000 kronor (approximately $11,000), though the parents have denied all charges and plan to appeal the judgment.

The girl's lawyer told SVT that her client was “satisfied [with the court's decision] but of course conflicted, because these are her parents”. Since returning in Sweden, the girl has been living in protected accommodation.

The lawyer, Gunilla von Wachenfeldt, said the judgment was “enormously important for all girls in this situation”.

Sweden brought in a new law to combat forced marriage in July 2014.

Before this, forced marriages were illegal but were treated as part of a broader category of coercion crimes. The Swedish migration agency had called for the law to be updated in 2011, criticizing its current form as insufficient. 

Under the new laws, a wider range of offences were criminalized, so that anyone found guilty of forcing someone into marriage can be jailed for up to four years, while those convicted of tricking a victim into travelling abroad to be married against their will can face two years in prison.

But despite a number of reports being filed, only one other case so far has resulted in an indictment.