Germany moves to criminalise 'forced marriages' to wipe out traditional Muslim practice

Berlin, Oct 28 (ANI): The German government has moved a proposal to criminalise forced marriages in the country, in an attempt to wipe out the traditional Muslim practice.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet agreed to a proposed law that would make forced marriage in Germany a crime that can be punished with up to five years in prison, the Telegraph reported.

"Forced marriages are a serious problem in Germany," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, adding that by criminalising them, the nation would make it clear that this is no longer "a tradition from olden times or different cultures that is ... tolerable."

About 4.3 million Muslims live in Germany, and forced marriages are still fairly common especially among Turks and Arabs.

Although there are no official figures on the number of forced marriages, rights groups maintain that increasing numbers of young immigrants, who grew up in Germany and identify with Western values and the right to choose their own partners, are rebelling against the tradition.

The government has also proposed to modify a general immigration law in order to ease an existing restriction on immigrants who are forced into arranged marriages overseas. Such immigrants often lose their residency status in Germany on being kept out of the country for more than six months.

Under the proposed law, such so-called "vacation brides" would receive an unlimited right to return to Germany, if they have lived in the country for at least eight years and attended school for six years. Those who have spent less time in Germany also would be able to return to Germany, if they can prove that they are well integrated here.

However, the German human rights organisation Forum Menschenrechte said that such legal changes would not go far enough.

It gave an example, saying that women who are brought to Germany from Turkey and forced to marry a Turkish immigrant need more protection. Currently, if these women manage to get a divorce during the first three years of their time in Germany, they are automatically deported to their home country, unless they can prove they suffered a special hardship in their relationship. (ANI)

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