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article imageSweden moves one step closer to outlawing forced marriages

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By Yukio Strachan     May 25, 2012 in World
Around 300 people in Sweden live under the threat of being married off to someone against their will. Now, a new law presented Thursday aims to fix that.
"We want to criminalize child marriage and forced marriage," Göran Lambertz, who heads the government inquiry tasked with drawing up new legislation, told Sveriges Television (SVT). "It should also be a punishable offense to take a child out of the country and marry them off there."
The Global Post says while forced marriage is already banned in Sweden, lawmakers think criminalizing the practice will further deter people from committing the offense.
On May 1st 2004, Sweden changed its marriage laws to make marriage under the age of 18 illegal, even if the marriage was entered into abroad, The Local reported.
Until then, it was possible for citizens of countries were the legal marrying age was under 18 to marry in Sweden from the age of 15 and up without requesting special permission.
But last year the government declared it wanted to see if further restrictions could be drawn up against so-called proxy marriages to try to ensure that marriages are entered into voluntarily by all parties.
The inquiry also proposes scrapping an exception to current marriage laws allowing people under the age of 18 to get married.
Sweden currently has an exemption for child marriages in cases where an underage girl is pregnant.
"We want to get rid of that. It shouldn't be possible to get an exemption for child marriage," Lambertz told Sveriges Television (SVT).
The inquiry also proposes creating a national body to improve coordination, education, and advising among public agencies and schools which deal with the issue.
According to the Global Post, British lawmakers have also been pushing to criminalize forced marriages recently, the Swedish Wire reported.
In Britain, up to 17,000 women, mostly Muslims, are subject to honor killings, sexual assault, and other aspects of forced marriage each year.
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