Prohibited Marriages: Investigation to how the Act combatting forced marriages works in practice

Susanne Rutten, Eliane Smits van Waesberghe, Richard Blauwhoff, Esther van Eijk, Pauline Kruiniger, Leyla Reches, Elles Ramakers

Research output: Book/ReportReport

2 Downloads (Pure)


On 5 December 2015 the Act Combatting Forced Marriages entered into force in the Netherlands. Maastricht University and the Verwey-Jonker Institute carried out research to investigate how this Act works in practice. The Act aims, on the one hand, to further reduce the number of forced marriages that are celebrated in the Netherlands and, on the other, to limit the recognition of foreign marriages in the Netherlands to those marriages which reflect generally accepted forms of marriage in the Netherlands.
The picture that emerges from the research findings is that the implementers of the Act by and large apply the Act. Civil marriages under the age of eighteen are no longer celebrated in the Netherlands; a conclusion which is different with respect to marriages between blood-relatives in the collateral line in the third and fourth degree. Foreign marriages are no longer recognised as long as both parents are under the age of eighteen years and foreign polygamous marriages that have a connection to the Netherlands are not recognised. However, coercion to marry, as the primary target of the Act, still seems to elude the legislative framework that has been put in place in the vast majority of cases mainly because such coercion cannot always be verified. The functioning of the Act Combatting Forced Marriages has most clearly exerted its influence on migration policy in the area of child marriages. Social pressure, loyalty to one’s family and/or the social environment, the fact that the honour of the family may be at stake coupled with fear of honour killings, as well as concern about the loss of dependent or derivative residence rights, may influence the use of the Act in various ways. The negative implications of the application of the Act, like human rights violations especially in migration- and asylum cases, are accepted ‘for what they are’. The research findings convey the idea that, where the Act has set obstacles to the celebration of marriage or the recognition of certain types of marriage, people resort to alternatives routes to attain their goal.
Translated title of the contributionProhibited Marriages: Investigation to how the Act combatting forced marriages works in practice
Original languageDutch
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherMinisterie van Justitie / WODC
Commissioning bodyMinisterie van Justitie en Veiligheid, Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum, WODC
Number of pages247
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this