In Sweden, charities call for a study of the country's missing schoolchildren

Charities and rights organizations in Sweden have called for a nationwide report of students who fail to return to school after the long summer break. It is feared that many school-age girls have been forced into marriage.

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards NewsMavens, Sweden
In Sweden, charities call for a study of the country's missing schoolchildren - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

On a national level, no authority has the responsibility of mapping or documenting this problem, so the true extent is unclear. But several children living in Sweden have disappeared since the start of the summer holiday, and in several cases their parents are suspected of taking them abroad for forced marriages.

In Gothenburg alone, the country's second largest city, at least nine students failed to return from the summer break despite efforts from schools and social services to protect at-risk girls.

In several of those cases, concerns had already been raised about the risk of forced marriage or FGM.

Before the summer, charities had launched awareness initiatives such as advising girls to tuck a spoon in their underwear if being taken abroad against their will, so that customs authorities would be alerted. 

Details from the story:

  • Sweden intrduced a new law to combat forced marriage in July 2014; before then, forced marriage was illegal but was considered under the umbrella term of "coercion"
  • Since then, there have been at least 3 cases of parents being sentenced for attempting to force children into marriage
  • However, there have been multiple further cases of children going missing and feared to have been taken abroad for forced marriage or FGM
  • The number of calls to hotlines dealing with forced marriage cases has increased significantly over recent years

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