Better legal protection and greater prevention are the government’s new weapons in the fight against forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
On Women’s Day, the government presents its much-publicized plan of action. We already know that the Government will research means to avert forced marriage.
It will become a criminal offense not to report it if one is aware that a young girl or boy is in danger of being forced into such a marriage.
The action plan is the latest of a series of new initiatives the government has presented in recent years. But ‘the fight must continue’, said Prime Minister, Erna Solberg (Høyre).
‘One of the biggest challenges in Norway, and globally, is that women and girls are subjected to domestic violence. Forced marriage and genital mutilation are severe forms of such gender-based violence’, she said.
Another challenge is negative social control. Solberg pointed out that many young people in Norway live under oppressive social pressure to behave in certain ways. This is achieved by means of strict supervision, threats and coercion.
According to the action plan’s findings, there is no research on the extent of such controls, but since 2013, counselors at selected secondary schools have reported 787 such cases, of which 298 have concerned ‘extreme control’.
The authorities are now proposing a separate mentoring scheme for this group in collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
In the action plan, the government also advocates tightening the Marriage Act to combat child marriage.
In addition, the government will strengthen legal protection further by investigating the possibility of criminalizing extrajudicial, and forced marriages that are entered into by means of religious pressure.
Such marriages are not affected under the current penal provisions on forced marriages (which are non-the-less prohibited).
To prevent forced marriages which are entered into abroad, in January this year the government introduced a new provision in the Immigration Act that both parties in the marriage must be aged at least 24 years to gain eligibility for family reunion.
The government also wishes to expand the provision of abuse to include extended families. Today, people only receive a temporary residence permit to stay in Norway if they have been abused by their partner.
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
Norway abides by a number of conventions in accordance with the United Nation’s development goals which are committed to combating FGM.
According to the action plan, it is difficult to say anything about the degree of the practice in Norway, but some studies suggest that attitudes change after one has lived here for a number of years.
‘Knowledge is the best way to stop FGM, and childhood marriage or forced marriage’, said Solberg with firmness.
‘Public authorities have a particular responsibility. And we will improve’, she promised.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today