In Sweden, the national social services released a brochure that legitimizes child marriage. The brochure, which is directed at recent immigrants, came despite a recent vote in the country’s parliament that banned the practice. It is directed to “those who are married to children in Sweden.” 

The publication of the brochure has sparked controversy in the Scandinavian country. Twitter commentator “Angry Foreigner” tweeted that the brochures legitimizes child marriage even while it recommends that migrants should refrain from living with underage spouses or having sexual relations with them. “Basically, they acknowledge the marriage,” wrote Angry Foreigner. “But ‘recommend’ that you don't live with - or bang someone - under 15.” The Twitter user wrote, “There's no threats with prison though, or any info on consequences.”

Angry Foreigner added, “Ironically migrants would be punished harder for this in their home country. The sentence in Syria is 9 years in prison. In Sweden it’s just welfare.”

This week, Sweden’s parliament voted to end the recognition of child marriage even while the government is seeking “exemptions for special cases.” Robert Hannah, a member of parliament who represents Sweden’s Liberal Party, called for a ban of the practice. Tweeting this week, Hannah wrote, “We demand a total ban on child marriage. It is shameful that the government wants to keep special grounds for child marriage. They are letting the girls down!” 

Public opinion has been stirred over the last three years about the arrival of thousands of migrants. In 2017 alone, for example, 188,000 asylum seekers arrived in Sweden. In December, Sweden's national forensic medicine agency found that out of nearly 8,000 supposed minors, at least 6,600 were 18 or over. Furthermore, the instances of official lenience in the face of child marriage has been criticized. For example, a court dismissed a case in 2017 in which a 26-year-old Syrian man was married to a 13-year-old girl whom he had raped. Also last year, a  25-year-old immigrant man was allowed to keep his pregnant 14-year-old wife until she reported him to police for rape.

Across the Baltic Sea in Germany, the law allows child marriage in some instances. German law allows that a marriage that has been performed according to Syrian law in Syria with a 14 year old bride and a man of legal age, must be recognized as valid if the husband belongs to the Sunni sect of Islam and the marriage has already been executed.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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