Genital mutilation and forced marriage

Born Free Forced Marriage Wara RehmanNorwegian Minister of Justice, Tor Mikkel Wara (Progress Party) visits by Born Free. Photo: Gorm K. Gaare / Født Fri

Extends duty to report genital mutilation and forced marriage

The Norwegian Government extends the duty of reporting genital mutilation and forced marriage. It advocates that family and friends may also be held criminally liable if they do not report on imminent genital mutilation and forced marriage.

 

Born Free (Født Fri) this week received a visit by Minister of Justice, Tor Mikkel Wara, and MP Kari Kjønaas Kjos (both Progress Party). They brought with them the news that proposals for legislative changes will be put forward. They will have a direct impact on the areas that Born Free works with. The Minister of Justice provided the following account of what the legislative changes will entail:

These are two proposals to prevent forced marriage and genital mutilation. We propose to extend the obligation to report. This means that everyone has a responsibility to prevent genital mutilation. It is punishable not to prevent it from happening. The same applies to forced marriages. There is also a proposal where we state that forced marriage is prohibited even when it happens out of court. ie through rituals that are not formally legal, performed by a pastor, imam or the likes.

’Dark’ numbers

The leader of Born Free, Shabana Rehman states:

Even though there are considerable ’dark’ numbers surrounding this, it is a phenomenon that is quite widespread, and one case is one too many. We must stop this kind of abuse of humans, and to make a larger part of the environment around those who may be in danger responsible, is a big step in the right direction. It’s not just up to professionals to report when they are worried, and in many cases, the damage will already have happened.

These changes will also put more pressure on family and the surroundings to abandon cultural or religious practices that may be unlawful, by the knowledge that the likelihood of disclosure is larger.

We also believe that it is positive that there is a change regarding marriages through informal channels. Unfortunately, for many, it is a reality that they are married against their wishes, and later can’t get out from under it, as it comes down to religious leaders to grant a divorce instead of Norwegian law. We thank the Government for taking this issue seriously and for showing the ability to listen to those of us in civil society who deal with the matter on a daily basis.

I’m not looking at this as just a tightening of but as an extension of accountability. It is high time, and it shows that we have now come to a deeper understanding of how honour and shame culture works.

 

© Født Fri / #Norway Today

 

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