Prevalence of forced marriage to be investigated
The Ministry of Justice has requested the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy at the University of Helsinki to investigate the occurrence and disclosure of forced marriage in Finland. Forced marriage normally refers to a marriage contracted without the consent of either party.
The purpose of the investigation is to obtain information on forced marriage as a phenomenon, in order to ensure well-functioning cooperation between the authorities and a smooth criminal process chain in matters related to forced marriage.
The investigation will assess to what extent people residing in Finland are or have been forced to marriage as well as the nature of individual cases. Similarly, an investigation is required on whether cases have come to the attention of the authorities and proceeded to pre-trial investigation, and how well the police and child welfare services can identify the phenomenon.
Under the Finnish Criminal Code, forced marriage is punishable as trafficking in human beings, aggravated trafficking in human beings or coercion. The act is punishable regardless of whether it has occurred in Finland or abroad.
There are no official statistics on the number of forced marriages in Finland. Non-governmental organisations have reported that they are annually informed of several dozens of cases in which a person residing in Finland is or has been forced into a marriage. However, the Ministry of Justice does not know of any significant numbers of forced marriage offences reported to the police. Anybody can report such an offence to the police.
These offences may remain hidden and the victims may not want to report them to the police in order to avoid bearing witness against persons such as their own family members. Instead of the police, forced marriage cases may initially come to the attention of other authorities or non-governmental organisations.
The investigation is estimated to be completed by 30 September 2017.
Ville Hinkkanen, Senior Adviser, Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 2951 50165, e-mail: [email protected]