MPs investigate Syrian child brides and asylum concerns

800px-Boat_People_at_Sicily_in_the_Mediterranean_Sea
Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari). Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari)

A group of around 20 underage Syrian girls are on their way to the main refugee reception facility in Ter Apel to join with the husbands of their arranged marriages, according to broadcaster RTV Noord. At the Tweede Kamer, the Lower House of Dutch Parliament, members of parliament are not happy about the report, which said two of the girls are aged 13 or 14, and a 15 year old in the group wants to join her 38-year-old husband.

The import of child brides and many of the MPs find this unacceptable, and several, have expressed a desire to investigate the claim.. They have called on Justice and Security Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff to answer questions about the report.

"I believe that they are not voluntary in these cases. I think that they were forced marriages," said PvdA (Labour) MP Attje Kuiken to broadcaster NOS.

Center-right CDA party MP Mona Keijzer thought it was ridiculous nothing was done to intervene with the girls' arrival, while anti-Islam and anti-refugee PVV party leader Geert Wilders announced his revulsion at the thought.

The Netherlands recognises some child marriages in their countries of origin, this attitude has been widely criticized, as rescuers reported to RTV Noord that aid workers are often involved in cases involving teenage trauma. In this way, the Netherlands is permitting the sexual abuse of these young girls, the broadcaster suggested.

The country no longer recognizes marriages made under duress in a foreign country, NOS noted.

Last year, figures from the Immigration and Naturalisation Services (IND), reported that 34 girls of arranged marriages had applied for asylum within the Netherlands, only nine of which are now of the legal age to marry in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is currently in the process of changing their laws regarding this issue and marriages conducted in other countries, under duress and by those under the age of 18-years, will no longer been recognised in the Netherlands.

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