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Rotterdam offers safeguards against unwanted arranged marriages

Traveling teenage girls at risk

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ROTTERDAM - The municipality of Rotterdam is testing a new approach which should help prevent teenage girls from being pressured into marriage when they take a holiday to their family's country of origin.

Before the girls depart from Rotterdam, they can sign a contract stating that they do not want to marry abroad while on their holiday. The contract authorizes authorities to inform the Dutch police immediately if the signer fails to return at the end of the summer. In the past, school truancy officers were notified about such absences; however they had no authority to take action. The United Kingdom pioneered a contract system to combat arranged marriages, which has proven to be successful.

Rotterdam also plans to inform students about their rights under Dutch law with regard to arranged marriages and what action to take when threatened with violence due to infractions of family honour traditions. Students also receive information so they know what to do if they are confronted by an arranged marriage. In the Netherlands, most arranged marriages occur in the Moroccan, Turkish and Pakistani immigrant communities.