Sweden moved one step closer to criminalizing forced marriages with new legislation proposed today, The Local reported. According to Swedish lawmakers, around 300 people in Sweden live under the threat of being married off against their will.
"It should also be a punishable offense to take a child out of the country and marry them off there," Göran Lambertz, in charge of writing the new legislation, told Sveriges Television. While forced marriage is already banned in Sweden, lawmakers think criminalizing the practice will further deter people from committing the offense, The Local reported earlier this year.
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British lawmakers have also been pushing to criminalize forced marriages recently, the Swedish Wire reported. In Britain, up to 17,000 women, mostly Muslims, are subject to honor killings, sexual assault, and other aspects of forced marriage each year, the New Statesmen reported in 2008. And in Scotland, a Muslim scholar recently launched a major campaign against forced marriages, BBC News reported.
But a report from Amnesty International warned that some lawmakers in Europe may be inflating figures about forced marriage, acting more out of prejudice than statistics. "In the last decade or so some stereotypical views on Muslims have been voiced by some political leaders and have been reflected in public opinion polls across Europe," Amnesty International said.