onsdag 29. april 2009

innlegg om tvangsekteskap mm i Europarådet

THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Ms Woldseth on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Ms WOLDSETH (Norway). – Thank you, Mr President. First, on behalf of the European Democrat Group, I thank the rapporteur, Mrs Papadopoulos, for her excellent report, which, of course, I support.

It is important that we keep on talking about this topic, as by doing so we will ensure that we never forget the women and girls who are suffering in Europe today. This is the only way to ensure that we do our utmost to change this situation.

We all know that there are women and girls who are suffering. They are suffering because their own families are sending them to their country of origin to be forced into marriage or to be sexually mutilated, or because their fathers or male relatives think that they are too influenced by western culture and must be forced into more traditional ways. We cannot imagine what it must feel like for a young girl to be tricked by her parents and close family into travelling on holiday to their country of origin only suddenly to realise that she can never come back to the country where, perhaps, she was born or has lived almost all of her life. She finds that she has been removed from her friends—including, perhaps, a boyfriend—and her close family, and that all her hopes and plans for the future are suddenly gone.

In the report, we can read about a couple of cases that, fortunately, went well, but what about all the stories that we do not hear about? In my country of Norway, too many chairs are empty at the start of a new school year because girls are missing. What happens? Not very much. The fact that we accept that they are gone is what is really sad about this, because if we did not accept that, there would be many more stories with a happy ending and this would not be such a big problem. It is a big problem, however, because we are too afraid to stick our noses into family affairs, even if a violation of the human rights of a girl or woman is involved. We talk about religion and we talk about culture, and sometimes the family concerned might think that it is doing the right thing for the girl, but we cannot accept this; we cannot allow any violation of human rights in the name of God, Allah or any faith or tradition. I see some of these same symptoms in my discussions and work related to the report that I am preparing now entitled, “Domestic violence against migrant women”, which we will discuss later this year. We do not dare to confront these situations; instead we look the other way.

I am pleased that this report suggests some courses of action, such as training programmes for women and girls, information in their mother tongue, helplines and shelters, and, crucially, raising awareness and providing training for people who come into contact with these women and girls. Most importantly, however, we must dare to strike hard against the offenders. We must not understand or accept this at all.

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