European countries target child marriage in wake of refugee crisis

Most European countries still allow marriage under the age of 18 in certain circumstances, such as with parental consent or the approval of a judicial or governmental authority. In U.S. the situation is similar, with Delaware this year becoming the first state to ban marriage for anyone under 18 without exception.

But in the last three years, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have either outlawed child marriage or extended their bans to include the marriages of young foreign nationals wed abroad. A British lawmaker has also introduced a bill to ban unions under the age of 18 in England and Wales.

Swedish lawmakers are due to vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

In 2016, Sweden’s Migration Agency said it had identified 132 cases of children who said they were married on asylum applications, but acknowledged there were probably more. In the same year, more than 1,400 underage foreign children were listed as married in Germany, according to the country’s Central Register of Foreign Nationals.

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