Belgium’s gender-equality institute has created a code for use by civil registrars to report forced marriages.
These officers, who deal mainly with marriages, are in the front line when it comes to detecting such abuses.
Summer is a high-risk period for forced marriages. “In 2015, the Institut pour l’Egalité des Femmes et des Hommes, in collaboration with the Reseau Mariage et Migration (Marriage and Migration Network), published a specific guide for the education, police, justice and medical health sectors,” Project leader Nicolas Belkacemi explained. “However, we realised that for the administrative sector, it did not go deep enough.”
An information sheet has thus been prepared for the registrars, based on the British model. It gives a short description of forced marriage, a brief outline of the legal framework, and, in particular, guidelines for civil registry representatives.
Should they suspect that an individual is being forced to get married, registrars are invited to propose an individual conversation with the potential victim. If still in doubt after that, they are encouraged to inform the relevant magistrate in the prosecutor’s office.
Measures can also be taken to protect the victim, often with the help of field-based associations.