Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

- We know of 25 child marriages

"If we had produced as bad a report as Athar Akram, we would have been crushed," said Rita Karlsen, general manager of Human Rights Service.


- When I read the report to Athar Akram, I just get sad. Why does he not want to address what are the key issues; whether it is unfortunate with marital marriage or not? Instead, it seems that his whole point is to try to shatter our credibility, begins Rita Karlsen, general manager of the Human Rights Service (HRS).

However, she believes that Akram cannot do that. The first thing she does is to show Ny Tid that HRS has not "renamed" statistics from Statistics Norway (SSB), as Akram claims.

And by self-examination, Ny Tid can state that Statistics Norway's statistics actually have a category that shows spouses taken from "country of origin", and not "abroad", which Akram believes is the correct name.

- Why in the world would we cheat with numbers? And why would not Statistics Norway have taken us earlier if we had renamed their categories, Karlsen asks.

Her conversations with the agency have revealed that the relevant category strictly deals with spouses taken from "abroad", but that Statistics Norway has chosen to call it spouses taken from "the country of origin".

- According to Statistics Norway, the category may contain some slingshots from other countries. But mainly this applies to spouses from countries of origin, explains Karlsen, who also points out that HRS has checked the Statistics Norway against the UDI's statistics for family reunification.

25 child marriage

- Although the UDI statistics cannot be directly compared with the statistics from Statistics Norway because family reunification is not necessarily granted in the same year as marriage is entered into, there is no difference in the main pattern for obtaining spouses, Karlsen points out.

She admits that she has not checked Akram's allegations of misrepresentation of figures from a Danish survey, but rejects his claim of calculation errors regarding the average age of marriage.

To emphasize the organization's points, she gives Ny Tid the following new figures from an HRS note the public has not yet received:

- We know that several of the marriages in the immigrant population in Norway have been committed with persons under 18 years of age. For example, in the period January 2004 to May 2005, it was registered that 11 resident spouses were under 18 years of age when they married, and 14 spouses in Pakistan who were under 18 years of age when they married resident immigrants. In this period alone and from Pakistan, it means 25 child marriages, says Karlsen.

- Akram black painter

Her correspondence with Akram's criticism that HRS discredits the Danish immigration policy is that he himself and everyone else in Norway is painting the Danish policy.

- He must feel that we paint a beautiful picture of Denmark, but we are open to supporting Danish immigration policy, says Karlsen, who believes that Akram itself has a problem with methods in this area.

- He refers to "someone" he has spoken to in Denmark, without giving his name. Then it will be impossible for others to verify his claims, she says.

Akram's criticism for not including cohabitants, she encounters challenging him to order such statistics from Statistics Norway.

- He is welcome to do a study of cohabitation. But then he must also find out who they are cohabiting with, do not take for granted that all immigrants who are cohabiting are cohabiting with someone who already lives in Norway, as he does. He should also check how many of them are married in addition, Karlsen challenges.

The point of focusing on those who have married, she explains, is that HRS wants to question how much freedom immigrant youth really have when it comes to marriage.

- But we also believe that marriage patterns are a key integration variable, Karlsen adds.

- Statistics Norway is politicized

HRS's general manager also rejects the criticism that Statistics Norway scientist Lars Østbys brings.

- Lars Østby is a demographer. His main thesis is that more of those who have not married will choose differently than those who have married. He must like to think so. But when he uses statistics about fertility among 2nd generation immigrants for the benefit of his argument, he does the same thing he criticizes us for. The figures are as small for his statistics as for those about marriage among 2nd generation immigrants, says Karlsen.

She gives Østby the right to think that immigrants are getting older and older compared to when they get married and have children.

- But the pattern of who they are allowed to marry does not change, says Karlsen, who criticizes Statistics Norway for being politicized.

- Østby often takes purely political positions instead of sticking to the facts, she says.

Karlsen ultimately rejects HRS's attempt to create some frightening scenario that exponential growth among immigrants will make them more numerous than us.

- Our point is that the authorities must be aware that as of today there are 74.000 children and young people from countries where arranged marriages are common. If only an approximate number of these pick up spouses in their countries of origin in relation to what is happening now, this will be a big problem, warns Karlsen.

For the more immigrants from the same group and the longer the period of residence in Norway, the greater the chances of the spouses coming from the country of origin. And the greater the chances of developing ghettos and parallel societies to Norwegian society, believes the head of the Human Rights Service.

You may also like