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  • 14

    Forced Marriages Now a Swiss Problem
    Immigration; Posted on: 2008-03-13 17:13:14 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Suffer the Children

    'Please Don't Marry Your Cousin'

    Image: a still from Neeraj Kumar's chilling award winning documentary film "Child Marriage," which chronicles the scourge of forced marriages in South Asia. As the Western World becomes more like the Third World, our social gains, from a living wage and freedom of expression to public schools, freedom from disease and crime are being rolled back in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance."

    As parliament prepares to debate forced marriages, calls are mounting for more to be done to stop the practice, prevalent among some parts of the migrant community.

    According to Lathan Suntharalingam, a local politician campaigning against such marriages, it is an integration problem which can't be solved through "multicultural do-gooding".

    Forced marriages are those taking place under community or parental pressure, normally among immigrants. In some cases, violence and emotional blackmail is employed both before and after the wedding.

    There is evidence that such unions are taking place in Switzerland. The only study on the issue so far, by the Surgir foundation in Lausanne in 2006, estimates that there are around 17,000 forced marriages in the country.

    A third of those involved are under 18 years old, and the practice also affects men as well as women, Surgir found.

    Suntharalingam, of Sri Lankan origin and member of the Lucerne cantonal parliament, is the co-founder of an association fighting forced marriages.

    He said that the issue affected patriarchal and traditional migrant communities and was not linked to a particular country of origin or religion.

    Among those most affected, he said, were Hindu Tamils, Aramaeans, Catholic and Muslim Kosovars, orthodox Jews, Sunni Turks and Kurds.

    "Forcing someone into a marriage with a person of the same origin is often a result of a lack of integration," Suntharalingam explained.

    "Many Tamils, for example, have modest jobs and hardly speak the national languages, so they are cut off from the western way of life, which they regard with scepticism and fear."

    He added that many parents thought they were helping their children, as nuptials with people outside the ethnic group are seen as a divorce risk.

    Families also want to avoid "the disapproval of members of the community, who exercise a strong social control," according to Suntharalingam.

    He said one of the main problems in tackling the issue was "the do-gooding attitudes of some political circles which pretend not to know about the seriousness of the problem, making it into a simple cultural difference".

    This means that many of those working on immigration issues simply close their eyes to the problem for fear of being accused of discrimination, he continued.

    "We young Swiss of foreign origin do not want to ignore the problem but recognise it and work seriously against it.

    News Source: swissinfo.org


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