Action plan against forced marriages

Q-0980 E

The Norwegian Ministry of Children and Family Affairs

Action plan against forced marriages

Foreword

All children and young people must be given security, care, legal right and the right to develop emotionally, culturally, educationally and socially. In order to improve living conditions, gender equality and social integration of children and young people from minority backgrounds a special action plan was devised in 1995. The plan addresses the problem of forced marriages and recommends, among other measures, that steps should be taken to increase the level of knowledge and to provide opportunities for young people breaking out of a difficult family situation.

The Centre for Gender Equality has, at the request of the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, carried out a study of forced and arranged marriages. This study provides part of the background material contained in this plan.

Against the background of a parliamentary question on the subject of forced marriages in 1997, the Storting requested the Government to produce a special action plan to counter forced marriages. The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs has produced the action plan in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate of Immigration.

As part of its work in preparing the action plan, the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs arranged a seminar on the topic of forced marriage with participants invited from a range of organisations and public bodies. The purpose of the seminar was to gather and exchange knowledge end experience relating to this subject. The last part of the seminar took the form of session designed to identify inputs to the action plan.

The action plan has two principal aims:

  • To prevent young people from being exposed to forced marriage
  • To provide better help and support to young people who are, or have been exposed to forced marriage.

Forced marriage among young people from minority backgrounds impinges on many political areas including, for example, gender equality, social integration and immigration controls. The public sector today provides support for many measures intended to promote social integration, both under the auspices of the public services themselves and in individual cases.

There is no established system of monitoring or studying the problem of forced marriages in the Nordic countries. Existing knowledge is limited to experience gained from individual cases. The Nordic Council of Ministers has therefore taken the initiative for the production of a report concerning the incidence of forced marriages in the Nordic countries. The report is expected to be completed in spring 1999.

The action plan against forced marriages will also build on existing measures and develop these further. It would not be desirable to build up care services targeted specifically on those threatened with, or exposed to, forced marriage. The action plan will focus attention on the problem and give clear signals that Norwegian society does not accept forced marriage.

The action plan will concentrate on providing young people and their parents, as well as those working in the relevant public bodies, with information relating to individual rights and the Law, measures which can lead to increased dialogue, forms of joint action and measures designed to help an individual who faces a difficult situation. It is also necessary to increase our expertise in dealing with such matters within the various responsible public bodies.

Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have become involved in action against forced marriage. Among others, the Oslo Red Cross International Centre (ORKIS) and the MiRA Centre (the Forum for Minority Woman) are engaged in important work to help young people and their families. The minority groups have much better opportunities, compared with the community at large, to bring about and contribute to changes of attitude amongst their members.

The measures recommended in this action plan are the product of dialogue and collaboration between the various Ministries, public bodies, minority groups and NGOs.