The Danish government has announced new laws to curb forced religious marriages in the Scandinavian country. The new legislation will give the state power to issue harsher penalties, including expulsion, on imams and others that take part in conducting forced unions.
The news comes amid Copenhagen’s ongoing efforts to end the practice, which has seen numerous underage residents and citizens forced to marry under so-called Sharia law.
Speaking about the changes, Karen Hækkerup, Denmark’s minister of social affairs and integration, said, “Everyone should have the same rights when they live in Denmark, regardless of whether one has Muslim parents.”
Her comments echoed those made by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in October, when she told parliament that changes were on the way that would “show young people that [the government] are on their side”.
One such victim, a 15-year-old Danish citizen of Moroccan decent, told TV2 news agency that she was forced to have sex with her new husband on her wedding night: “I was totally dead during that period. My aunt told me that the guests would not go home until they saw blood on the sheets.”
The girl added, however, that the public should not confuse forced marriage with Islam in general: “In Islam, it says in black and white that one must not force a person to marry another.”