Belgium set to ban forced marriages

10th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgium is to become the world's second country after Norway to ban forced marriages after the Cabinet approved a proposal from Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx on Friday.

10 March 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgium is to become the world's second country after Norway to ban forced marriages after the Cabinet approved a proposal from Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx on Friday.

Research conducted by the VUB in 1999 indicates that forced marriages are not uncommon in Belgium. Researchers interviewed Turkish and Moroccan women in Brussels and Flanders and found:

  • 27 percent of the surveyed women older then 40 were the victims of a forced marriage;
  • 13 percent of surveyed Turkish girls aged 17-24 and 8 percent of Moroccan girls aged 17-24 were the victim of a forced marriage.

Between December 2003 and June 2004, the UCL also conducted a study among 1,200 students aged 15-18 in French-speaking education.

That survey found that 73.4 percent of respondents said forced marriages still occur and 23 percent said they had personally come into contact with the practice.

Currently, forced marriages are combated by laws against physical and mental abuse, rape and threats. However, the government said these laws are insufficient to fully combat forced marriages.

Currently, Norway is the only country that prosecutes forced marriages. Belgium is set to become the second country with the adoption of Minister Onkelinx's legislative proposal on Friday.

In future, forced marriages will be punishable with a jail term of one month to two years or maximum fines of EUR 500 to EUR 2,500. An attempted forced marriage is prosecutable with a jail term of 15 days to a year or a fine of EUR 250 to EUR 1,250.

The legislative proposal outlines the right to enter a marriage willingly and gives public prosecution authorities the ability to annul a forced marriage. Currently, only the married partners can apply for an annulment.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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