The practice of forced child marriages is also in Belgium a reality. Today, a seminar on this topic was organized by the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, Plan Belgium and Ghent University’s research group International Centre for...
The practice of forced child marriages is also in Belgium a reality.
Today, a seminar on this topic was organized by the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, Plan Belgium and Ghent University’s research group International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH). "Many assume that this is an archaic practice, but this is not the case," said Liesbet Stevens, deputy director of the Institute. "We need a global strategy." ICRH is currently preparing a study on the topic and the Institute will soon present a national action plan to the different governments.
A Brussels-based NGO registered 10 cases of forced child marriages in 2013. A steward who works with Roma in Sint-Niklaas says that, out of the 60 Roma families they follow up on, five have imported an underage bride. The problem has been seen both in ethnic minorities that reside in our country since a longer period already, as well as in new migrants, Roma and Afghans in particular.
Between 2010 and the end of 2013, the police registered 56 complaints about a forced marriage. "But there is an under-reporting, which happens more often in case of violence against women and children," says Professor Els Leye of ICRH. A complaint with the police is rare, out of fear or out of loyalty to the family and / or community. But that fear has far-reaching consequences: psychological problems, violence, isolation, financial and integration problems.
The ICRH study shows that professionals feel inadequately trained to recognize forced marriages. Legislation does exist, but it is insufficiently known and its application remains difficult.
A national action plan, drawn up by the Institute, includes a number of recommendations. It will be submitted to the different governments. This way, more concrete instruments should be developed to quickly and effectively detect forced marriages.
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