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Swiss report reveals hundreds of forced marriages

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12:24 CEST+02:00
Around 1,400 women in Switzerland were the victims of forced marriages or unwanted family interference in their relationships with partners over the past two years, a new report reveals.

A study conducted by a pair of academics from the University of Neuchâtel provides fresh evidence that such marital arrangements are not as rare in the mountain country as some observers may have believed.

Researchers Janine Dahinden et Anna Neubauer discovered 348 cases of forced marriages in Switzerland involving women who were put under family pressure to tie the knot with a partner they did not want.

In 384 cases, women were forced to end freely chosen relationships, the researchers found.

And in a further 659 cases, young women were prevented from seeking divorce with partners from whom they wanted to separate.

The first two types of cases largely involved immigrants aged 18 to 25 mostly from the Balkans, Turkey and Sri Lanka, according to a press release from the University of Neuchâtel.   

Most of the women prevented from divorcing were older than 25 and were born in foreign countries.

In such cases, the women depended on their husbands financially, as well as for their legal status as residents in the country, the study concluded.

The report, commissioned by the federal immigration office, was presented on Thursday to Simonetta Sommaruga, federal minister of justice and police.

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Sommaruga said the study shows that legislation is not enough to end a practice that should be regarded as a form of “domestic violence”.

The Swiss parliament recently passed a law that invalidates all forced marriages and makes someone who compels such unions liable for a prison sentence of up to five years.

Sommaruga plans to make new recommendations to the federal cabinet based on the results of the study.

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