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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 13:54 GMT
Sweden to ban all child marriages
Young Roma bride Ana-Maria Cioaba after her wedding
Children married young are denied a childhood, says Swedish minister
Sweden is planning to ban all marriages to children under the age of 18, regardless of their nationality.

Under the existing law, people from countries where child marriage is legal are permitted to marry from age 15.

But, if parliament gives the go ahead, no-one under 18 will be able to marry. Underage marriages carried out abroad will also not be recognised.

The Federation of Kurdish Associations in Sweden welcomed the proposal, which would take effect from 1 May 2004.

"We must not fail the youths fighting for the right to decide over their own lives," said Justice Minister Thomas Bodstroem.

"The child's right to its childhood must be protected. The self-evident right of every person to decide whether he will marry, and whom, must be protected.

"The message of the society is clear: children should not be married".


The Riksdag, or parliament, will now consider the proposal.

If passed, the Swedish authorities will view child marriages as null and void, and prosecute anyone who forces children into wedlock.

Any marriage carried out abroad, in a bid to circumvent the new law, will also not be legally recognised.

Keya Izol of the Federation of Kurdish Associations in Sweden, said he thought it was a good move.

"Regardless of the cultural background, experiences so far have shown that marriages between people under 18 years of age have created problems for different groups," he said.

"That is why we support this proposal wholeheartedly".

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