The number of women and girls who have been forced into marriage or held abroad against their will is rising, charity LKHA has said.
The organisation, which helps women who find themselves stranded abroad, said it has received 43 requests for help so far this year.
In 2022 the total number was 50 but, the charity said, hundreds of cases disappear under the radar each year, particularly during the summer holidays.
“The fact that so many reports have come in is remarkable,” LKHA manager Diny Flierman told broadcaster NOS. “But at the same time, many more people don’t come to us. We think the real number is far higher and it’s because many women are afraid to ask for help,” she said.
Conflict often arises over the choice of partner in families, founder of women’s rights organisation Femmes for Freedom Shirin Musa said.
“For many parents with a non-Western background it is important their child marry someone of the same background. If that doesn’t happen, they may resort to banning their child or forcing them into a marriage, or taking them abroad and leaving them there.
The women are usually but not exclusively taken to countries in the Middle East, parts of Africa and Southeast Asia.
Lina, one of the girls the LKHA helped return tot he Netherlands said she had been “lured’ abroad when she told her parents she would not give up a relationship her parents did not approve of.
“The fights stopped and I thought they had accepted my relationship. But once abroad they took my papers away and told me my life in the Netherlands was behind me,” she told the broadcaster.
Hundreds of women are still stuck abroad, however, Musa said. “We know about women who have been abroad for years and are unable to renew their passports and residence permits, which may then expire. We are calling on the authorities to act because at present embassies are doing nothing to help these women,” she said.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation