Swedish government targets polygamists as illegal practice boosted by migrant influx

Swedish government targets polygamists as illegal practice boosted by migrant influx
Sweden’s Ministry of Justice has launched a probe into how to end polygamy in the country. Although prohibited by law, the government has struggled with how to deal with asylum seekers who arrive in Sweden with multiple wives.

The government investigation seeks to determine the legal implications surrounding the known cases of polygamy in Sweden. According to Helen Fritzon, Sweden’s minister for migration and deputy minister for justice, the probe also aims at “preventing the continuation” of the practice. Several hundred polygamous marriages have been reportedly registered with the Swedish government.

“Polygamy will not be recognized in Sweden, and we need to analyze the remaining gap in the legislation that allows it. Polygamy opposes gender equality, and, according to the UN, can have serious emotional and economic consequences,” Fritzon said Thursday in a statement released by the justice ministry.

The press release also noted that “an increase in the number of asylum seekers who were not previously affiliated with Sweden” has contributed, at least in part, to the number of unlawful marriages in the country.

Although polygamy is illegal in Sweden, such marriages have been recognized by the Swedish government if the couples married in a country where it is allowed, and if they married voluntarily and had no links to Sweden at the time. However, Fritzon’s announcement seems to suggest that Stockholm is considering the possibility of banning the practice outright.

But polygamy isn’t the only social taboo that refugees have brought with them to Sweden. In March 2016, at least 70 married girls under the age of 18 were found in asylum centers across Sweden, including in major cities like Stockholm and Malmo.

“Sweden does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to enter into marriage in the country,” Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) legal head Pär Ödman said in March. However, the official acknowledged that according to current Swedish law, entering Sweden with an underage bride is permissible so long as the marriage was legal in the country in which it was carried out.

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