Saturday 18 September 2021

MPs want answers on refugee child brides as 20 head for Ter Apel

Wedding ringsMPs said on Monday they are concerned about reports that a group of young teenage girls who have gone through arranged marriages are reporting to the Ter Apel refugee registration centre to be reunited with their partners.

Local broadcaster RTV-Noord said on Monday some 20 teenage Syrian girls had made the journey to the Netherlands. The broadcaster bases its claims on IND documents.

Two of the girls are 13 and two others 14. One is 15 and married to a man of 38, the documents show. Labour MPs have now called on junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff to clarify the situation.

Unacceptable

MP Antje Kuiken is quoted as saying by broadcaster Nos that the situation is unacceptable. ‘I don’t believe this is voluntary,’ she said. ‘I think these are forced marriages.’ Kuiken said the girls now arriving in the Netherlands should be placed with foster families.

Last year 34 teenagers in arranged marriages came to the Netherlands as refugees, most of whom are no longer minors.

The Netherlands recognises marriages involving young teenagers as long as they are officially registered in the country of origin. However, campaigners criticise this position. ‘These girls need help,’ one social worker told RTV-Noord.

Legislation which will limit the recognition of marriages to people aged 18 and over is currently waiting for approval in the senate. The vote is not expected before November.

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