Sunday, November 4, 2007
"Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined a growing movement to criminalize forced marriages in Germany, which is growing less tolerant of practices among Muslim immigrants that clash with the nation's liberal social values.
Forced marriages are generally imposed by young women's families to keep them from dating. Prosecution is rare and must take place under assault laws that also outlaw threats and coercion.
Women's' groups have been increasingly pushing for forced marriages to be specifically criminalized, to ease prosecution and to send a strong signal that the practice violates German laws and traditions.
''I completely agree that forced marriages should be punishable as a criminal act,'' Merkel said in a speech at a women's conference held by her conservative Christian Democrats over the weekend, surprising and pleasing activists.
''We are thrilled that the chancellor has made such a clear statement,'' said Sibylle Schreiber, a spokeswoman for the women's rights group Terre des Femmes. ''Finally she's given a signal to the people that forcing your daughter into marriage is a crime.''" By AP, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 11-4-07 NVS)