The social services should be empowered to slap families suspected of preparing forced marriage with a travel ban in order to stop "honor-related culture," the Liberal party proposed.
"Honor-related oppression is the largest challenge to gender equality in Sweden," Liberal leader Jan Björklund told the daily newspaper Aftonbladet.
The summer months are traditionally seen as "high season" for child marriages. Children from immigrant families are sometimes taken abroad to their respective home countries and married off. With a travel ban in place, the Liberals argued, the social services could seize a suspected family's passports. Should they still proceed with leaving the country, it could potentially lead to punishment.
The Liberals also want the social services to initiate talks with parents in case of concerns over children being exposed to "honor-related" oppression, such as not allowing their daughters to participate in mixed gender swimming lessons, a phenomenon previously encountered in families with Muslim backgrounds.
Minderåriga flickor tvingas till äktenskap med äldre män. Det måste bli ett slut på detta. https://t.co/38V1IzoCy5— Jan Björklund (@bjorklundjan) June 18, 2018
"Minor girls are forced to marry older men. There must be an end to this," Liberal leader Jan Björklund tweeted.
Liberal spokeswoman for integration issues Gulan Avci called on social workers not to be afraid to forcefully take away exposed children when required.
"Today, there is a fear in the social services of taking away a child. Many testify that they are afraid of being accused of being racists," Avci said.
Previously, several Swedish media outlets had called on girls at risk of forced marriage to put a teaspoon in their underwear to be detected during airport checks and signal the authorities that help is needed.
The "spoon-in-panties" trick, however, doesn't work in practice, author and debater Katerina Janouch claimed after thoroughly following the instructions, yet failing to draw the attention of security personnel at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm.
"I work in security and fully agree. We do not have routines for handling this. It's not automatic that we take girls into a room for a body search, as the information says. Also, it must be quite a big spoon to trigger an alarm… Unfortunately, the idea is good, but it does not work as desired," an anonymous security official told Janouch.
While child marriage is forbidden according to Swedish law, a 2016 survey by the Swedish Migration Board counted at least 132 cases of child marriage as a result of the 2015 migrant crisis. Furthermore, a large number of cases were suspected to have gone under the radar due to discrepancies of age assessment and more refugees arriving in the Scandinavian nation.
The Liberals, formerly known as the People's Party, is a center-right party, whose official ideology has always been social liberalism. It recent decades, it has been pushing for NATO membership and joining the Eurozone. In the 2014 general election, it harvested 5.4 percent of the vote, becoming the country's seventh largest party.