- Category: News
- Created on Monday, 13 May 2013 20:36
- Written by Gordon Darroch
The city’s south-east police division and Fier Fryslan, a Friesland-based organisation specialising in ‘relationship violence’, supposedly acted as mediators to stop the girl being sent to Pakistan and forced into marriage with a cousin.
The case came to light during a workshop at the ministry of social affairs on April 11, which discussed the concepts of honour and freedom.
Five witnesses told De Volkskrant that the police had given a presentation explaining that they had decided to facilitate the wedding to save the family’s honour and avoid potential reprisals.
However, some critics accused the police of acting as “wedding planners” for an underage girl and breaking a Dutch law which bans exclusively religious weddings. They argue that traditional Islamic marriages put women in a subordinate role by denying her equal rights such as divorce.
Under the Dutch separation of church and state, marriage can only be legally recognised in a civil ceremony. Couples commonly opt for a church wedding as well but these are purely ceremonial.
Shirin Musa of Femmes for Freedom told De Volkskrant: “Police and Fier Fryslan have not only broken the law, they have colluded in depriving that girl of her rights.
“There is a great risk that she will be trapped in the marriage. The girl may have consented to such a marriage, but she doesn’t know what negative consequences it can have. If a man doesn’t agree to a divorce, you can’t separate from him.”
According to the witnesses the girl had fallen in love with a Pakistani-Hindustani boy from her neighbourhood and persuaded her parents to back her choice. The pair married at a secret location, arranged by Fier Fryslan, with the police supervising the couple’s travel from Amsterdam.
The parents are understood to have approved the wedding on the condition that the couple underpin their marriage in law by holding a civil ceremony when they turn 18.
In traditional Islamic society the girl would have been seen as dishonouring her family by turning down the partner who had been chosen for her in Pakistan, unless she was already married with her parents’ consent.
A spokesman for Amsterdam’s police confirmed that the wedding ceremony had taken place but denied that the police had acted as mediators.
He said: “We collected the girl directly from school and took her to the facility in Friesland.”
Anne van Dijke, a senior manager at Fier Fryslan, said the situation had been misinterpreted. “Fier would not endorse the marriage of an underage girl under any circumstances,” she said.