In six years, more than 600 marriages involved at least one person under the age of 18

State Secretary for Citizenship and Equality, Rosa Monteiro, wants to expose and suppress harmful traditional practices. A working group to prevent and combat child, early and forced marriages will be announced this Friday. And the Aliens and Borders Service has a new model of signaling victims traveling to countries where this practice and that of female genital mutilation continue to be common.

The pandemic stopped link growth

According to the law, anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 can officially form a union as long as parents give permission. Several organizations called for an increase in the legal age and warned of an increase in early marriage, which increases the risk of dropping out of school, premature pregnancy and domestic violence. And asked about your order.

The data of the Institute for Registries and Notaries cited by Rosa Monteiro point in this direction: 95 in 2015, 98 in 2016, 108 in 2017, 119 in 2018, 130 in 2019, 78 by October 2020. There are more than 600 weddings in six years with at least one bride under the age of 18. Only the pandemic stopped the rise. Forced marriage, this has been a crime since 2015 and will be a hidden reality.

“It’s a complex phenomenon,” comments Rosa Monteiro. It can – for example – be associated with human trafficking. “There are very different situations. We need more information. We want a survey to be carried out to understand what exists, as far as criminal control is in effect, ”he continues. “Several agents in the system say that there will be many situations that are beyond criminal control.”

There are different starting points. Some follow the network of migratory flows. Early, combined, arranged and forced marriages of children are common in many countries. They persist in contexts of extreme poverty and in the dynamics of gender inequality. “Most of the victims are female,” says Monteiro.

The group needs to reveal the national reality, look for best practices, write an intervention guide, define and start a campaign, think about recommendations and suggestions. By the end of 2021 you have to submit a final report – White Paper on Harmful Traditional Practices.

It’s not zero. Rosa Monteiro highlights the approximation work that has been carried out with communities at risk. In 2018, a line of support was launched to benefit eight projects from non-governmental organizations. A new line was opened on Thursday (worth 50,000 euros). Last year, the first space in support of victims of domestic violence and / or harmful traditional practices was opened at the National Center for Support for the Integration of Migrants in Lisbon. Soon an equal answer should be put together in Porto and Faro.

More than 5,000 trained specialists

The new flowchart for communicating potential airport cases was created by the Aliens and Borders Service and the Citizenship and Gender Equality Commission. Such an instrument was foreseen in the Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which was incorporated into the National Strategy on Equality and Non-Discrimination 2018-2030. Child Protection Commissions also have an updated guide to genital mutilation.

Monteiro does not say that genital mutilation is increasing. He says that yes, “diagnostic capacity” is increasing in health care. Attempts were made to reach more and more skilled workers. As of 2018, 5,100 have received training. Last year, despite the pandemic, it was 900.

The Health Data Platform centralizes information about the phenomenon. The average age of genital mutilation survivors recorded in Portugal is 30 years. Last year 45 in pregnancy consultations, 20 in hospital stays, 20 in postpartum follow-up examinations, 16 in general medical consultations. They were cut outside of Portugal, most of them before the age of 12. In view of the country of origin, Guinea-Bissau (68%) and Guinea-Conakry (21%) stand out. Cases of women from Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and other countries have also been discovered.