Government takes action against forced marriage

The government is taking action to prevent forced marriage and help the victims, many of whom are young women. From now on, Domestic Violence Advice and Support Centres will be supported by a nationwide organisation providing guidance for frontline professionals, for instance in cases where the victims are living outside the Netherlands.

Professionals will also be able to use an e-learning training package to learn more about forced marriage. In addition, Lodewijk Asscher, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, is today launching a campaign to tell young people at risk of forced marriage where they can get help and advice. The campaign, which will run until the end of December 2014, is mentioned in a letter sent last week by Mr Asscher to the House of Representatives.

This month, the campaign website www.alsniemandietsweet.nl will be launched, posters will be displayed in cinemas, informative banners will appear on websites aimed at young people and radio spots will be broadcast on channels popular with teenagers. Forced marriage victims will also be able to call the domestic violence helpline: 0900 – 126 2626. The Reporting Code Act will come into force on 1 July. From that date, schools and care institutions will be required by law to have a protocol for reporting child abuse and domestic violence, which will also apply to forced marriage.

It is estimated that every year, hundreds of individuals in the Netherlands are forced into marriage. They often run away from home or are abandoned abroad. Victims may be abused or – in the worst cases – murdered, or commit suicide. Mr Asscher: ‘Choosing your own partner is a fundamental freedom. Forced marriage is a gross violation of this human right. The action we are now undertaking is vital for every young woman forced into marriage. Currently, problems are often identified too late and people don’t know how to help. This needs to change.’