Rotterdam begins memorandum to prevent forced marriages of young girls

The Rotterdam council has begun a trial to prevent girls from being forced into arranged marriages during religious and cultural holiday periods. It is reported that every year, dozens of Dutch girls with Moroccan, Turkish, and Pakistani backgrounds fail to return to the Netherlands after international travels during the holidays. Most of these girls, the council says, are married off in their origin countries without much choice. The council has proposed issuing a declaration in which pupils will be asked to sign indicating whether or not they wish to enter into an arranged marriage. If a pupil is forced against her signed declaration, a school can call the police to begin an investigation. The proposal is borrowed from one in Great Britain, where the initiative has been in practice for some time; if a girl is forced into an arranged marriage, immediate action is taken – the British embassy employs special staff who try to gets the girls back to Britain. While the Netherlands does not have such specialized staff as of yet, the concern over honor-related violence and marriages has been an issue for some time now in Rotterdam, says executive councilor Jantine Kriens. It is believed that dozens of girls are affected each year.