Norway’s Aftenposten reports that Norwegian authorities are helping young people “with immigrant backgrounds” flee forced marriages. The immigrant backgrounds are never identified, but Norway has a sizable Islamic community, and of course arranged marriages are common in the Islamic world. It is refreshing that the Norwegians aren’t legalizing forced marriage in the name of pluralism. (Thanks to jboxell and Susan.)
Norwegian authorities last year arranged new identities and other assistance for nearly 60 youth with immigrant backgrounds. All feared they’d be forced to enter into arranged marriages.
One local agency that offers assistance (SEIF, Selvhjelp for innvandrere og flyktninger) said pleas for help have tripled during the last five years.
The number of crisis cases skyrocketed after a young woman in Sweden was killed by her father in 2002, after she pursued a romantic relationship of her choice. A third of those seeking help in Norway are under age 18.
Even though many are equipped with new legal identities, new addresses and a portable alarm that summons police if they feel threatened, most say they won’t feel secure until they’re also allowed to change the number that everyone resident in Norway is issued by the government.
Many of those seeking help are escorted by teachers in whom they’ve confided at local public schools. Not all are girls who fear their fathers will force them to marry cousins or others handpicked by the parents. Several boys also have sought help, fearing for their lives if they refuse to accept the wife chosen by their parents.