Official figures have shown that last year dozens of married child brides arrived as migrants applying for asylum in Norway, with the youngest being just 11 years old.
Data from the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir) seen by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) revealed more than 60 minors were married when they applied for asylum in Norway last year. The 61 cases known to authorities — mainly coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — broke down as follows:
- at least ten girls were under 16 years old;
- 49 girls and two boys were 16-17 years old; and
- at least two of the girls under 18 years were expecting their second baby.
Although individual cases could not be commented on for reasons of privacy, Bufdir director Mari Trommald confirmed to NRK the youngest of the child brides was an 11-year-old girl who arrived within the last three months.
Ms. Trommald acknowledged the risks faced by the child brides and other minors, saying:
“We are looking very seriously at children under 18 who are in danger of being subjected to sexual abuse, violence and coercion. We are committed to helping these children and preventing forced situations.”
Ms. Trommald added that the situations she cited “could be criminal cases”. Cases are assessed individually, and although guided by the fact the age of consent in Norway is 16 years old, evidence of violence or coercion form part of those assessments.
In one such example a 14-year-old pregnant girl crossed into Norway at Storskog, accompanied by her 23-year-old husband and their 18-month-old baby. Now the two live separately, with the husband under police investigation. Ms. Trommald explained:
“Norwegian law applies in Norway, and we are therefore concerned to make sure no child is subjected to sexual relations, violence or other coercive situations when they are in Norway.”
Thale Skybakk of Save the Children — the world’s leading children’s charity — told NRK that poverty, war and conflict are reasons why child marriage is increasing worldwide. In addition she said it is not necessarily best for child brides to be separated from their husbands, rather “one has to make an individual assessment as to what is best for the child.”
As reported previously by Breitbart London, Monika Michell, spokeswoman on honour based violence for women’s rights organisation Terre des Femmes, is rather more stark in her condemnation of child marriage. She says that although each girl experiences it differently the consequences can be devastating, leading her to conclude:
“Forced marriage is a continuous rape.”