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Child Marriage in Sweden?

By Tyler Bauer

I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday when I came across a headline that caught my eye. The article is a few days old now, but I think it’s still interesting.

This headline that caught my eye comes from Politico and says, “Sweden struggles over child marriage.” We normally think of child marriage as being something that only happens in undeveloped, backwards countries. Data proves that child marriage is largely found in third-world and/or under-developed countries. However, due to the rise in immigration from third-world countries to Europe, child marriage is now an issue that has to be dealt with in countries like Sweden.

Most children who are married are female, although there are underage males involved in child marriage, too. According to Politico, there have been 132 recorded cases of underage asylum seekers entering Sweden and stating they are married. However, the real number of child spouses is believed to be much higher, as most cases likely go unreported. According to Swedish law, underage marriage carried out in other countries are recognized, but many Swedes are uneasy with the increasing number of child marriages in the country nowadays. In their eyes, it’s one thing to welcome a young spouse from the developed world, and it’s another thing entirely to welcome an underage, married asylum seeker.

Many European countries have had to deal with aspects of immigrants’ cultures clashing with the predominant culture in immigrants’ new county. This clash usually takes place with topics like religion or crime, to name a couple examples. The issue of child marriage in Sweden is yet another example of this phenomenon. Countries like Sweden are stuck between a rock and a hard place on the issue of immigrant culture, and this struggle is wreaking havoc on its political system.

The Swedish government is currently run by a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Green Party. However, with the rise of immigration, Sweden’s far-right parties are gaining significant momentum. Understandably, much of the focus when it comes to immigration are the left vs. right or pro-immigration vs. anti-immigration political battles. However, the far more important and interesting struggle is the following question: How far should countries and societies go to accommodate immigrants’ cultures? There is a line that should be drawn somewhere, but where?

I don’t have a clear answer to that question, and there probably isn’t a clear answer out there. I think we can all agree that we should accommodate at least some immigrant culture. Things like religion or language, for example, should be allowed to cross borders. These hurt nobody and to deny immigrants of their religion or language would be unreasonable and inhumane. However, should be allow customs that are believed to violate one’s rights, like child marriage? (I say that child marriage is a violation of rights because it is generally agreed that children are unable to make decisions on their own.) Personally, I say no, Sweden shouldn’t accept child marriages. Then again, I could be totally wrong. Maybe Sweden should accept and recognize child marriages among migrants.

Issues like these make me realize that sometimes I have no idea how a situation should be handled. So, I’ll leave it up to you – should Sweden accommodate child marriages among its migrant population?

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