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Justice ministry to crack down on forced marriages

Age threshold raised to 18

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - In a letter to the Second Chamber, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin writes that he wants to give the Public Prosecutorsí Office wider powers to charge those who force others into unwanted arranged marriages.

While forced marriages are already illegal in the Netherlands, the current legislation also has its limitations. However, when Dutch citizens abroad force someone to marry them or someone else, the Dutch authorities can only charge them when forced marriages are also a crime in the country where the offense takes place. As well, a foreigner living in the Netherlands cannot be prosecuted for a forced marriage that took place abroad.

In his letter, the justice minister states that such situations are unacceptable, pointing out that forcing a person to get married runs counter to the Dutch legal order. He wants to amend the current legislation and have it fine-tuned accordingly. The minister also writes that the marriageable age threshold will be raised to 18 for all marriages, including all marriages officiated in the Netherlands according to foreign law, and all marriages of people settling in the Netherlands.

The amendment is also intended to prevent minors with little education and skills from coming to the Netherlands via a marriage sponsorship.