Tougher Tackling of Forced Marriages
THE HAGUE, 08/06/13 - Women and girls that want to go and live in a different country will in future have to de-register themselves at the municipality in person. As a result of this measure, Social Affairs Minister Lodewijk Asscher hopes to be able to reduce the number of forced marriages.
The woman or girl de-registering will be heard individually if officials have doubts about the voluntary nature of the departure. Additionally, a report can be made to the Household Violence Support Centre, under an action plan that Asscher has sent to the Lower House.
Currently, it is still the case that parents can de-register a family member, or even the entire family. As a result of this, fathers can de-register their daughters at the municipality against their will or without their knowledge after a forced marriage in the country of origin.
Formally, public servants are not allowed to ask about motives for de-registering. But if there are suspicions that a forced departure is involved, it is permitted to report their suspicions to the Support Centre, says Asscher.
Additionally, women left behind abroad, or forced into a marriage, will in future be entitled to help from the Dutch embassy. Should the victim be in danger, the foreign ministry is required to take direct action and facilitate her return.
According to the minister, it can be assumed that there are “hundreds of cases of forced marriage per year.” It is not known how many cases are actually involved. Nor is it known how many women and children are left behind against their will, for example after a vacation in the country of origin.
On 1 July, the jail sentence for forced marriage will go up from 9 months to two years. Even if the forced marriage takes place abroad, it is still punishable in the Netherlands.