Forced marriage is a criminal offense in six EU countries – Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany and Malta – and Sweden is expected to debate a proposal to criminalize in mid-2012. Forced Marriage is also criminalized in Norway, not an EU member state though nonetheless subject to all EU legislation through the European Economic Area Agreement. Breaching a Forced Marriage Civil Protection Order is a criminal offense in Scotland though not in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Ahmad highlighted the need for a major EU-level study to understand the extent of forced marriages within Europe’s borders. He stressed that working to stop honor crimes was not about attacking a particular religion, but rather about dismantling the structures that support this crime.
Diana Wallis stressed that the meeting highlighted that forced marriage and honor crimes are pan-European phenomena and identified a number of potential suggestions and solutions to implement at EU level by the MEPs and activists working together. She explained that a dual solution was necessary, coupling a change of mentality towards forced marriage with concrete legislation at EU level. Stressing that much work still had to be done, she added “...obviously our laws are not managing to get to grips with this issue.”