Civil action against forced marriage

The Cabinet wants to improve marriage freedom by further reducing forced marriages and restricting the recognition of marriages concluded abroad. In future, it will be easier to annul forced marriages. There will also be a ban on child marriages (under the age of 18) and the Cabinet wants to prohibit cousin marriages. This is evident from a letter of State Secretary of Security and Justice Teeven, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Donner and Minister for Immigration and Asylum Policy Leers. The Council of Ministers has agreed to sending the letter to the Lower House.

The recognition of polygamous marriages concluded abroad will be restricted. If a foreign national enters into a polygamous marriage abroad after having applied for a residence permit, the marriage will not be recognized when he takes up residence in the Netherlands. Such a marriage also does not constitute a ground for admission of the marriage partner. Once the foreign national has taken up residence in the Netherlands, he must abide by the Dutch laws and regulations. If he travels abroad after some time to enter into a polygamous marriage there, this will therefore not be recognized.

The situation is different for foreign nationals who have entered into a polygamous marriage before applying for a residence permit in the Netherlands. At the time of concluding the marriage there is no link with the Dutch legal system whatsoever. For that reason the marriage will have to be recognized.

A marriage of a minor legally concluded abroad can now be recognized pursuant to Article 5 of the Marriages (Conflict of Laws) Act. In future, this will only be possible if the marriage partners have reached the age of eighteen when they apply for recognition of their marriage in the Netherlands.

In addition, the Cabinet wants to include collateral consanguinity to the third or fourth degree in the law as an impediment to marriage, because these so-called cousin (nephew/niece) marriages often concern forced marriages. If there is proof to the contrary, dispensation will be granted.

The measures of the Cabinet are in line with European developments to fight forced marriages. The Council of Europe is preparing a convention (Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) that will require the Member States to take all legal and other measures to prevent that children and adults are forced to marry.