In a proposal referred to the Council on Legislation for consideration, the Government proposes that a new child marriage offence be introduced that can result in imprisonment for up to four years. The Government also proposes new grounds for tougher penalties for ‘honour’ crimes and a new instrument, a travel ban, to further strengthen protection against honour-related crime.
“We can never accept that children get married, that people cannot choose for themselves who they will marry, or that people are subjected to violence and oppression in the name of honour. Through these measures, the Government and the parties cooperating with it therefore want to further strengthen protection against honour-related crime,” says Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson.
“Children in Sweden must not be married, and children must be protected from being removed from the country. End of discussion. We’re now taking a stand for vulnerable children and closing important loopholes in the law. The judicial system must put a stop to custodial parents and other adults restricting the rights of children and young people to live free and secure lives. Children must know that there is protection and support,” says Juno Blom, Secretary-General and child rights policy spokesperson for the Liberal Party.
The new child marriage offence means that it will be punishable to induce or allow a child to enter into marriage or a relationship similar to marriage. Unlike the offence of coercion to marry, this new offence does not require the use of any unlawful coercion or exploitation of the victim’s vulnerable situation if the offence was committed against a child. The Government also proposes new special grounds for tougher penalties, meaning that the punishment for an offence will be tougher if the motive for the offence was ‘honour’.
It is difficult for the Swedish authorities to protect children who have left the country. For this reason, a travel ban will also be introduced to protect children at risk of being taken out of Sweden to be subjected to child marriage or genital mutilation. It will be a punishable offence to take a child out of Sweden in violation of a travel ban. A person who violates a travel ban may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to two years. If a child is subject to a travel ban, the child cannot obtain a passport. If the child already holds a passport, it may be cancelled.
“We can never accept that children and young people become victims of honour-related violence and oppression. Every child who is removed from the country or who lives in fear of being removed from the country is one child too many. This is why the Government is now making it more difficult for anyone wanting to remove children or young people from the country,” says Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Lindhagen.