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Wrong medicine

SV won the match against the age limit for marriage, but the compromise is just as bad.


[8. June 2007] SV won an important victory when it became clear this week that the government will not submit a proposal for an age limit for so-called foster marriages. The case has been difficult for the government. Integration Minister Bjarne Håkon Hanssen has been an ardent supporter of such a measure to prevent forced marriage, but SV went out in the election campaign as guarantors against such an age limit. Ny Tid has previously criticized such a limit for being a discriminatory and inaccurate measure. The fact that the proposal is now not presented is an important victory.

Unfortunately, victory is more symbolic than real. The compromise has become an equally severe restriction on the right to marry the one you want. The proposal for a new Immigration Act now means that anyone who wants to pick up a spouse outside the EEA must document that they have earned more than NOK 200.000 for at least one year and make it probable that they will earn at least this amount in the future as well.

In practice, the new maintenance obligation will also place restrictions on age, it becomes clear when we check the tax lists for a random selection of the government parties' young parliamentary representatives. SV's Audun Lysbakken only fulfilled the requirement for a maintenance obligation the year after he was elected to the Storting. He was then 26 years old. The Labor Party's Anette Trettebergstuen was 23 years old before she met the requirement. Colleague Marianne Marthinsen fulfilled the requirement only after she was elected to the Storting at the age of 25. Thus, the Minister of Inclusion's measures against forced marriage have shifted from discriminating on the basis of ethnicity to revolving around class. This will affect many immigrants – and others with low incomes. It will affect students who meet the great love abroad, it will affect low-paid people and those who receive social support. Most Norwegians do not earn enough when they are 18 years old and old enough to get married.

Forced marriage is high on the public agenda, but has so far been met with few measures. The report "Forced Marriage in the Auxiliary Device" recently showed that the problem is hardly touched on in the public auxiliary apparatus, but left to private, often voluntary, bodies. The fight against forced marriages should be included in the public work against honor-related violence and domestic violence.

It is neither your age nor your salary that determines whether you marry coercion or love. The problems related to forced marriage are not solved by general laws that apply arbitrarily. It is solved with targeted measures, information and public assistance. There we are already

on overtime.

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