Up to 2017, the Dutch government will free up 1 million Euros to tackle forced marriages, honour-related violence and homophobia. Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Lodewijk Asscher has announced this in a letter to the Dutch Lower House.
In his letter, the Minister announces an action plan self-determination (Actieplan Zelfbeschikking) as a sequel to the action plan forced marriages (Aanpak Huwelijksdwang). Over the next three years, teachers at secondary schools will be offered training to recognize the signs of forced marriage and honour-related violence. A number of Dutch celebrities and experts will be asked to commit to the issue and become ambassadors. In addition to this, there will be a fund for activities that will increase the acceptance of LGBTs.
“To decide for yourself whom to marry, whether you prefer men or women, or want to divorce your partner. These are fundamental values in our country. Culture, religion or tradition should never be an excuse to restrict essential freedoms," Minister Asscher writes in the accompanying letter to the action plan self-determination.
Over 150 specially trained volunteers will get support to make the taboo subjects forced marriage, homophobia and honour-related violence debatable in their own communities. There will also be a social media campaign with stories of people who will advocate a change in mentality with regard to these issues.
Forced marriage, honour-related violence and abandonment are estimated to occur several hundreds of times a year in The Netherlands. Exact numbers are difficult to determine, as they often occur behind closed doors. In most cases, it concerns non-western immigrants. Causes are coercive family traditions, social pressure and control, as well as a sense of shame and honour, sometimes in combination with relationship and parenting issues.