Some 60 Syrian teenagers, at least one as young as 14, came to the Netherlands as child brides between September 2015 and January, according to a key government advisor.
Corinne Dettmeijer, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, said in a new report this week that she is ‘concerned about the vulnerability of Roma children, Syrian child brides and children illegally staying in the Netherlands who are forced to do domestic work’.
Officials, she said, need to be better trained to target specific vulnerable groups.
Speaking about the child brides she said: ‘A targeted approach makes Syrian child brides less vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual violence. These girls often find themselves socially isolated, enabling possible abuse and exploitation to continue unabated for a lengthy period. They are at a heightened risk of becoming domestic slaves or hidden wives.’
In the Roma community, children are also at risk of being pushed into marriage, the report says.
‘We cannot allow a situation in which children are coerced into marrying and subsequently forced into having sex in a created setting. The policy of the public prosecution service must be targeted more at prosecuting such acts,’ Dettmeijer said.
The Netherlands recognises marriages involving young teenagers as long as they are officially registered in the country of origin. However, legislation which will limit the recognition of marriages to people aged 18 and over is currently awaiting approval in the senate.
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