While Scandinavian nations have a total ban on child marriage, authorities are in some cases letting child brides live with their older husbands, reasoning that this would be less traumatizing than forcing them to separate after having lived through war in countries as Afghanistan and Syria. Some of those girls also pretended to be adults when requesting asylum, which has caused a controversy in these Nordic countries, where critics say this is tantamount to complicity in child abuse. In Norway, for example, 10 of the asylum seekers under 16 that arrived over the past year were married, four of them had children. “Some live in adult asylum centers, some in their own rooms and some with their partners,” the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration said. The rules have now tightened, with child-brides couples arriving now being separated, and cases from 2015 being reviewed again.
Similar issues have arisen in Denmark — where the Integration Minister Inger Stojberg announced in February that it would no longer allow couples under 18 to live together, unless they are older than 15 and there are “exceptional reasons”, after a review found dozens of cases of older men living with child brides in asylum centres. And in January, Swedish authorities also found that at least 70 underage girls were married in asylum centers, which Sweden’s Ombudsman for Children Fredrik Malmberg called worrying: “We know that children fleeing are very vulnerable both for human trafficking and to become targets of forced marriage.”
According to PLAN, an NGO working with children in developing nations, some 15 million child marriages take place around the world each year, which developed nations should never condone. “If the girl is aged under 16, the minimum age for sexual intercourse in Norway, the child bride refugee should be separated from her husband even if they have children together and even if they say they want to stay together,” Kjell Erik Oie, head of PLAN Norway told Reuters.
Read the full story at Reuters.