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Schoolgirls in Finland forced abroad for arranged marriages

Yle has learned that girls from immigrant families at a school in Western Finland have been sent abroad into forced marriages. Teachers say they are aware of the situation but are unable to do anything about it.

“I’ve encountered situations where marriages have already been arranged for girls who’ve come here from elsewhere. Some of them are actually pleased with the situation, but there are some who want to continue their studies,” says a teacher at the school.

The teacher points out that not all youngsters from other cultures are aware of Finland’s equality standards.

“In some cases, girls who’ve been subjected to genital mutilation open up to Finnish adults about the pain they have experienced. You get the feeling that this is not right. It’s not according to any religion, it’s a cultural thing,” the teacher says.

Should forced marriage be criminalised?

Under Finnish law, forced marriage can be defined as human trafficking and therefore as a crime — but not a single case has so far been investigated.

“We receive 15-20 inquiries annually about forced marriage. But these cases are kind of hidden, so we can assume that these are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Natalie Gerbert of the Monika Multicultural Women’s Association of Finland, an umbrella organization for groups of women of ethnic minorities.

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