100 cases per year – Government lags behind on reforms against forced marriages


100 cases per year – Government lags behind on reforms against forced marriages

According to research by Caritas and the NGO ‘Orient Express’, at least a hundred forced marriages took place in Austria in just one year. Most of these affect children – and the number of unreported cases is estimated to be significantly higher. Alarm bells are ringing for NEOS youth spokesperson Yannick Shetty. He insists on the implementation of the reforms announced several times by Justice Minister Alma Zadić.

These are shocking figures: according to a new study in Austria, forced marriages took place in at least 100 cases within a year. According to experts from Caritas and the NGO ‘Orient Express’, the number of unreported cases is probably even higher. “This practice constitutes a serious violation of human rights and often affects children. Mostly young women under the age of 16. “And this despite the fact that marriage in Austria is only officially allowed from the age of 16,” experts know.

Criticism of the poor data situation
“The data situation on child marriage in Austria is very poor,” said Yannick Shetty, youth spokesperson for NEOS. “That is why we call on the Minister of Justice to finally compile comprehensive statistics and make the number of child marriages public. Child marriage has no place in Austria. The rights of children must always come first. And for that we need better data as a first step,” he adds – and he is not alone in his opinion. Maryam Alemi, from Caritas Legal Advice of the Archdiocese of Vienna, who leads the corresponding research project FORMA (Forced Marriage, 2023/24), sees it the same way. “At the beginning of our work, it quickly became clear that there was little data available on the topic of forced marriage in Austria. The data we could rely on – for example from crime statistics, case files and court decisions – was often limited to certain areas, making it difficult to provide information and derive targeted measures,” the expert explains.

Another problem: Austrian law currently allows marriages from the age of 16 under certain conditions. This arrangement is defined by UNICEF as child marriage and therefore violates international standards for the protection of minors. Germany passed a law to combat child marriage in 2017, which only allows marriages from the age of 18 and applies without any exceptions.

Also in Austria, a reform of the child custody law was repeatedly announced, followed by a reform of the marriage and partnership law. Shortly before the end of the government period and in the middle of the government crisis, concrete measures are still a long time coming. “You would think that there would be a ban on child marriage in no time. But this federal government has not been able to do even that for years. And now the ÖVP and the Greens have finally stopped working, so their dispute is at the expense of the children, which is unbearable. Regardless of the wrangling within the government, the protection of children and youth must be a priority,” Shetty stressed. He has now – again – asked a parliamentary question about this to Minister of Justice Alma Zadić. Not the first, possibly very likely because the end of the government period is approaching, but the last question from the NEOS mandate on this subject.

According to Shetty, the revision of raising the marriage age to 18 years was anchored in the turquoise green government program and was confirmed by Justice Minister Zadić in December 2020 as part of a question answer. During a parliamentary question time in February 2022, the Green Justice Minister was unable to provide a definitive timetable for the ban on child marriage. Instead, marriage and partnership law reform should only be addressed after child custody law reform has been completed. This was planned for the first quarter of 2022, but is still missing. Year after year, Shetty continued to investigate. Year after year the government postponed it. In August 2023, the Justice Ministry said child custody reform was “already in political coordination.” One of the many political coordination processes between Black and Green that took much longer than planned.

Shetty asks about “preparatory actions”
“If one or both reforms can no longer be implemented, what steps will you and your department take to carry forward the preparatory measures taken for the reforms to the next government period?” the pink man now also wants to know. The minister has two months to respond.

Source: Krone


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this