Immigration and integration

Negative social control and honour based violence

It is important to prevent children and young individuals in Norway from being exposed to negative social control and honour based violence, inlcuding forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

The work involves safeguarding fundamental rights, ensuring freedom and equality for all, combating violence and abuse, preventing social exclusion and health problems and ensuring equal public services for the entire population.

Negative social control

Negative social control is pressure, supervision or coercion that systemically limits someone’s self-expression or repeatedly prevents them from making independent choices about their own life and future. This applies, for example, to an individual’s self-determination over their own identity, body and sexuality, freedom to choose their friends, leisure activities, religion, attire, education, job, boyfriend/girlfriend and spouse, and to request health care. In assessing whether a pattern of action constitutes negative social control, the age and development of the controlled party shall be taken into account, as well as the principle of the best interests of the child.

Honour based violence

Honour based violence is triggered by the family’s or group’s need to safeguard or restore its honour and reputation. This occurs in families and groups where the individual is expected to conform collectively, and where patriarchal norms of honour are engrained. All family members have a responsibility to ensure that the family and the group have a good reputation. Girls and women are particularly at risk because the honour of the family or group is linked to control of women’s sexuality, and because undesirable behaviour can bring shame on the entire family or group.

Forced marriage

Forced marriage is prohibited by Norwegian law and contravenes human rights and international conventions.

Forced marriage is a marriage where one or both spouses do not have the opportunity to choose to remain unmarried without being subjected to violence, deprivation of liberty, other criminal or unjustified conduct or undue pressure. Forced marriage is a form of domestic violence and can in practice also mean that the individual does not have the opportunity to break off an engagement or end a marriage, or choose a partner at odds with the family’s wishes, without being subjected to reprisals.

The prelude to forced marriages can vary. Some young people may be subjected to forced marriage after a lengthy period of time of increasing negative social control. Others experience being forcibly married without having been subjected to negative social control while growing up. Forced marriages take place both in Norway and abroad, but most forced marriages take place during holiday stays abroad. It is very difficult for the Norwegian authorities to help people at risk who are abroad.

People with developmental disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to negative social control, violence and abuse. The risk is compounded in situations where they are dependent on the help of others in everyday life and it can be difficult to oppose the wishes of others. People with developmental disabilities may have difficulty understanding what a marriage entails. In many cases, future spouses are not aware of the developmental disability. In practice, it can be a forced marriage for both parties.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation is a generic term for various types of interventions that damage a woman’s genitals, and which can have major physical and psychological consequences for the victim. Female genital mutilation can, among other things, lead to infections, chronic pain, sexual problems, birth complications and an increased risk of stillbirth.

Female genital mutilation is particularly prevalent in some African countries and in some countries in the Middle East. The practice is a social norm based on a number of cultural and social perceptions about, e.g., sexuality, affiliation, aesthetics, gender and religion.

There are no reliable figures on the prevalence of female genital mutilation among residents of Norway, but a percentage of girls and women who have immigrated from Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Sudan and Somalia have been subjected to female genital mutilation before moving to Norway. There is reason to believe that female genital mutilation of children and young people can also occur in connection with travel abroad, but there is little knowledge about this.