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Reshuffle the debate!


The Human Rights Service has provided figures showing that second-generation immigrants obtain spouses in their home country to a much greater extent than first-generation immigrants. Where 64 percent of men and 50 percent of first-generation women have a spouse from their home country, the figure for the second generation is as much as 75 percent, figures from HRS show.

This means, according to the same organization, that the development in the marriage pattern is going in the completely wrong direction. Combined with the fact that 80.000 children and young people from countries with arranged marriages are registered in Norway, we are today facing "a dramatic increase in foster marriages, of which many forced marriages," writes HRS in its latest report.

There is much to be said for these claims from a group that is trying to position itself as an indispensable premise provider in the immigration debate. One thing is that Statistics Norway and others believe that they have found significant interpretative errors and omissions in the report. As of today, no one knows how the pattern of marriage among second-generation immigrants will develop, simply because so few of them have married yet. In other words, the numbers are too thin.

In today's newspaper, Athat Akram, editor of the magazine Young Muslim, also points out that HRS mixes concepts such as country of origin and abroad, that they quote too high figures in a Danish report on marriage, and that the statistics do not include cohabitation. In a separate report, Akram writes that the HRS report contains "several contradictions and errors of varying severity, which either indicate distortion of reality, exaggeration, incompetence, incompetence, conscious or unconscious embezzlement of facts or a combination of all this."

Statistics Norway itself accuses Human Rights Service of misinterpreting statistical material in the report presented.

This criticism is not only important. It is absolutely necessary to counter the whole premise of the debate that HRS proposes; namely, that marriages in themselves are something that should be fought.

In order to convey its message, HRS makes a mother-nille argument: fetch marriage is largely about arranged marriage and forced marriage. Since arranged marriages are basically the same as forced marriages, all marriages will be forced marriages. In its report, HRS specifically rejects that three out of four second-generation immigrants will voluntarily pick up their spouse in their parents' home country. Thus, the underlying conclusion is that 75 percent of marriages among second-generation immigrants will contain an element of coercion.

And this is where the statistics turn into ideological seduction.

So far no one knows how many of the second generation immigrants want to get married in their home country. On a larger scale, the increase in the number of family reunions is a result of other forms of migration becoming impossible in Western Europe, and could be reduced by a broader right of asylum and immigration.

And getting married is not undesirable in itself, but only if the marriage is carried out under duress.

To counteract the latter, a minimalist state must adopt sensible legislation and good reporting mechanisms. We can and should manage that debate without HRS.

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