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Child marriage brochure prompts outrage in Sweden

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A Swedish leaflet about child marriage has been withdrawn after it sparked outrage. The document outlines the illegality of underage marriage in Sweden, but many assumed it was condoning it instead.

The brochure was produced by Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) and aimed at people arriving in the country. Entitled, Information for those married to a child, the document explains that child marriage is illegal in Sweden and the reasons why. It goes on to say that any child who arrives with a spouse will be treated as a lone child and placed in social care.

The brochure also points out that sex with anyone under the age of 15 is also illegal in Sweden. However, Swedish politicians and residents took issue with the language used in the brochure, saying it wasnt strong enough for the subject matter.

Jan Björklund, the leader of the Liberal Party, tweeted that the brochure should be “withdrawn without delay.”

"The biggest failing is that the word prison isnt present, but rather it gives a bit of advice and tips on how to respond if you have a relationship our marriage laws forbid," Tobias Billstrom, the leader of the Moderate Party, said, as cited by the Local.

“The material has provoked strong reactions and many comments. We have withdrawn the material and will revise it," Petra Rinman of Socialstyrelsen said in a statement, which explained the brochure was compiled as part of a government framework to disseminate information to children who are declared married, as well as spouses and family members.

Many expressed their anger over the leaflet on social media, where many appeared to think the brochure was encouraging child marriage or that it was a sign that Sweden was legalizing child marriage.

What's ironic is people escaping to Sweden because child marriage is illegal in their home country.

— Dryas Lulia (@DryasLulia) March 29, 2018

What sort of monster could vote in favour of child marriage and be elected an MP? What are the people of Sweden doing about this?

— Make Room Make Room! (@SRSilvie) March 26, 2018

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Nauseating & sickening. Sweden normalizing child marriage & India banned it decades ago. Crackdowns still happen in rural areas or far-flung areas where communities try to force children into marriages…

— SK (@Findinyourway) March 29, 2018

1) So, to those of you reading about this "support for child brides" in Sweden nonsense, here are some facts. First, The current law in Sweden is that child marriage is illegal. No party in Sweden supports child marriage…no matter what people tell you.

— Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) March 29, 2018

"Sweden does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to enter into marriage in the country,” Socialstyrelsens legal head Pär Ödman said. “However, according to current legislation, the general rule is that marriage which is legal according to the law of the country in which it was carried out should be recognized in Sweden. New legislation is currently being prepared by the government."

The new legislation will state that foreign childhood marriage will not be recognized if one of the parties was underage when they arrived in Sweden. It will come into effect at the start of 2019.

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