Swedish authorities approved of child marriage

Swedish authorities approved of child marriage
A marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 21-year old man was endorsed by several Swedish authorities, according to Swedish Radio's Ekot.

The couple, who married in their home country, came to Gothenburg last year to seek asylum in Sweden.

Because the girl is 14 years old, the social services in Gothenburg became involved. They decided that the couple should be placed in a shared apartment in another municipality in western Sweden, Ekot reports.

Something that was challenged by the social manager in the municipality.

- I think there would be pretty strong reactions if a Swedish-born girl told me that she was married. But the reactions are obviously not as strong when children come from other countries, he says to Ekot.

Even the Swedish Tax Board approved of the marriage, by registering the couple as married when they received a residence permit. A decision that the Authority now believes was a mistake.

- It is unfortunate that it happened. It is probably inattention, simply a mistake, says Per Skogh from Swedish Tax, to Ekot.

As recently as last year Sweden tightened the rules against child marriages. It is no longer possible to get special permission to get married if you are under 18 years old. Also new offenses that will strengthen protection against forced marriage were introduced.

Since 2009, the practice has been not to accept marriage with children under 15 years.

- It is a good legislation which has made it clear that child marriage is not allowed in Sweden, says Aleksander Gabelic, chairman of the Swedish UN Association, to Aftonbladet.

He is critical of the authorities' actions in this case which he says discriminates between people and nations.

- It's remarkable that one can have different laws for native Swedes and those who come here from another country, he says.

Ragnhild Ekelund from the social emergency service in Gothenburg would not comment on individual cases, but says it may be right to place the child with the adult partner.

- The question is where security is for a person. It could be that security is the partner they came with, she says to Ekot.

Aleksander Gabelic do not buy that argument.

- For the vast majority of children, security is to avoid the marriage that they might have been forced into, he says to Aftonbladet.

This case was only cleared up because it reached media, but how many similar cases are there?

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