“The authorities in the Nordic countries have a responsibility for their children and young people, no matter where in the world they find themselves. And if they are subjected to forced marriage abroad, our embassies must work together to bring them home,” the chair of the Welfare Committee, Bente Stein Mathisen, told the Session.
The Committee recommends that the Nordic governments: “Take initiatives to ensure that their embassies work more closely together and coordinate their activities in order to provide quick and effective help to those who are subjected to forced marriages.” The proposal was submitted to the Welfare Committee by the Conservative Group.
They could be our neighbours
No statistics are available for how many children and young people are living in forced marriages abroad, or the processes that precede the marriages. One method that has been brought to the attention of the Welfare Committee is to entice young people to other countries on the pretext of a holiday or a family visit, only for them to find out that a wedding has been arranged and they are then pressurised into saying yes.
“It is horrible to think that children and young people who could otherwise be our neighbours or classmates are living in forced marriages abroad.” The Nordic Youth Council supports the proposal, according to its representatives on the Welfare Committee, Seda Kekec and Kenneth Storm Jensen.
Easier said than done
The Helsinki Treaty, which also forms the basis for Nordic co-operation, contains provisions that allow for embassies to assist the citizens of other Nordic countries under a range of preconditions, so collaboration between them is not unknown. It complicates matters that the Nordic governments need to agree on a policy and that Nordic citizens are subject to the laws and regulations of the host country when abroad. This can complicate the process and drag it out, according to the Welfare Committee.
“This is precisely why the embassies need to work closely together. So that we can bring vulnerable children and young people home from forced marriages abroad,” Mathisen underlines.
A socially sustainable Nordic Region
The political efforts to bring children home from forced marriages abroad reflect the Welfare Committee’s focus on socially vulnerable people and gender equality, as well as the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision 2030: To make the Nordic Region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. A socially sustainable Region – together, we will promote an inclusive, equal and interconnected region with shared values, more cultural exchanges and welfare.