An integration adviser at the Norwegian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey has revealed that it is not uncommon for Syrian husbands to send their wives and children out of Norway to an illegal life against their will. The adviser, who chose to remain anonymous for security reasons, also stressed that the women and children brought to Turkey using Norwegian documents and are later deprived of money and passports, the daily newspaper Aftenposten reported.
"We have seen examples of children aged 6-11 being sent back to the war in Syria from which they fled. The fathers, however, stay in Norway," the integration adviser said. "This is a pattern that has been observed lately, and it remains to be seen whether it is an increasing trend," the consultant said.
In the most extreme cases, women were forced to leave Norway under duress and threats of violence, the integration adviser said.
The practice of sending back family members has been confirmed to Aftenposten by a number of Syrians living in Norway.
Conservative Integration Minister Jan Tore Sanner found the practice of sending family members to their respective home countries "totally unacceptable," adding that it made him "upset and angry." He stressed that all children, adolescents and women have the right to make their own decisions.
Aftenposten attributed this phenomenon to culture clashes. According to the newspaper, several aspects of Western culture (Norwegian in particular) may be uncomfortable for the newcomers, such as women openly drinking alcohol, premarital sex and cohabitation instead of marriage.
Before refugees are settled in Norway, they visit a culture course provided by the Norwegian authorities. During the course, the future Norwegians are enlightened on various aspects of living in Norway, ranging from taxes to gender equality.
The integration counselor in Ankara has said that some of the young women who came to Norway from Syria during the migrant crisis of 2015 were married as child brides.
"They may have got married at the age of only 12-13 years old, now they are around 18 years old. In Norway, they found out that they have rights as women, which is not always accepted by their men," the adviser said.
Integration Minister Sanner stressed that this phenomenon shouldn't go unpunished and pledged extra methods for mapping the problem as well as harsher follow-up measures.
Since the 2015 migrant crisis, Norway's Syrian diaspora has doubled in size and become one of the Scandinavian country's largest communities.