Government takes aim at forced marriages

The German cabinet on Wednesday backed several proposed changes to immigration laws including cracking down on forced marriages by making them a punishable offence and offering better protection for victims.

Government takes aim at forced marriages
Photo: DPA

The draft law from the Interior Ministry would define forced marriage as a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Current German law views such situations as a serious case of coercion. While this charge also carries up to five years in prison, the new law would ease the legal prosecution of forced marriage.

But Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger warned on Wednesday that while the laws would be clarified, the legal fight against forced marriages would remain a challenge.

“Enforcement will also have certain difficulties in the future too,” she told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, adding that new policies could not change the the private nature of the issue.

The proposal also provides for the safe return of women taken abroad for these marriages, an addition that Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said was essential.

“That is an actual change and improvement,” she said.

The cabinet discussion takes place after the immigration debate in Germany has become increasingly heated, and other topics on the agenda include better regulation of required integration courses for new German residents and the prevention of marriages of convenience.


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