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From this tweet, by a tweeter who claims to be located in Sweden:

No Joke: Sweden’s board of health and welfare and the migration authority just released this pamphlet called “information to the person who is married to a child”, meant to help guide men who marry underage girls through the Swedish welfare system.

The picture has a logo of Socialstyrelsen and Migrationsverket, and the title "Information till dig som är gift med ett barn"

I can find the publication here, so it exists. But is it an accurate description of what it is?

The page, when translated by google, says

Information for you who are married to a child

This folder is aimed at adults who are married to a child. It contains information about what is happening in Sweden about child marriages and children's rights. The folder can be left to the spouse of the social service and other professionals who meet the child.

However, the contents in the pamphlet seem to be opposed to child marriage. From Google Translate:

Barnäktenskap är förbjudet i Sverige I Sverige är det förbjudet att gifta sig med någon under 18 år. Det finns många anledningar till det.

Child marriages are prohibited in Sweden In Sweden it is forbidden to marry someone under 18 year. There are many reasons for it. [long list of reasons]

Is this pamphlet, apparently published by the Swedish government (the web site involved would be an extremely elaborate hoax if it was made up by extremists), a guide for men who've "married" a child on how to use the Swedish welfare system?

  • 12
    Hello Andrew, I don't think I understand what you are skeptical of. It seems that you rightly determined that this is in fact a pamphlet from a Swedish government institution. Sweden has his fair share of immigrants and refugees so it's not unimaginable that some of these are married with children and thus need some guidance as to what consequences this can have when they reside in Sweden. – Jordy Mar 29 '18 at 10:09
  • 33
    I think Andrew is skeptical that the document is "meant to help guide men who marry underage girls through the Swedish welfare system". Instead, as he said, the document seems intended to help both immigrants and officials understand how to come up with a legal solution when a marriage is invalid in Sweden. – Avery Mar 29 '18 at 10:23
  • 13
    @T.Sar Underage marriage has never been valid in Sweden and that was part of what the pamphlet was informing about. While some may claim to be married to a minor it won't be recognized as such when in contact with the authorities (or for wellfare for that matter). – Karl-Johan Sjögren Mar 29 '18 at 13:02
  • 7
    @T.Sar I'm no expert on the subject but we have a law that says that foreign marrige isn't valid if it is suspected that someone was forced into it: Lag (1904:26 s.1) om vissa internationella rättsförhållanden rörande äktenskap och förmynderskap As I've been told this invalidates (or at least makes it impossible to invalidate I guess) marriges to children under 15. But you are right that there is a new clearer law hopefully coming next year. – Karl-Johan Sjögren Mar 29 '18 at 13:23
  • 16
    Sweden probably can't invalidate, or refuse to recognise, child marriages if carried out by another EU state. That can mean children as young as 14 in Austria (!) - see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriageable_age#By_country – Jack Aidley Mar 29 '18 at 14:00
173

The pamphlet is/was real; the claim "a guide to welfare" is false

The pamphlet is/was real and caused a stir in the Swedish news, for example: Aftonbladet (in Swedish)

The pamphlet was published on Socialstyrelsens website on this link (in Swedish), but was quickly retracted (in Swedish) when the criticism poured in. The main objections were that the language was too soft and not conveying harsh condemnation.

The pamphlet was not however "a guide for men who've married a child on how to use the Swedish welfare system". The claim is false because Sweden has no welfare for being married at all in Sweden, not even for people that are married legally. And in order to get welfare for having a child you must be the legal guardian or trustee of the child, which the pamphlet states clearly is not applicable in cases where someone married a child outside of Sweden.

Edit after obtaining a copy of the pamphlet

Translation by jkej from the post below (thank you very jkej much for letting me use that; readers, please give the post +1's). I have made some additional some edits as well. The order is: page above, corresponding translation below.

enter image description here

Information to you who are married to a child

enter image description here

Child marriage is illegal in Sweden

In Sweden it is illegal to marry anyone under the age of 18. There are many reasons for this.

Children have a right to be children and to not have the responsibilities that come with a marriage. Children should go to school, educate themselves, develop as their own person, develop their own interests. Early marriage often lead to early parenthood, which leads to increased risks for the child, both in the short term and in the long term. Getting married early can also lead to both physical and psychological ill-health, an increased risk of living in poverty, or to be subject to oppression and violence.

This applies in Sweden:

  • All children, girls and boys, have the same rights.
  • Anyone who has entered marriage has the right to get a divorce, even if the other partner does not want to get a divorce.
  • Sex is voluntary, also within marriage.
  • Everyone shall have access to information about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • A girl/woman has the right to an abortion if she wishes to end a pregnancy.
  • When a person has reached the age of 18 that person has the right to self-determination.

Legal guardian, trustee, or specially appointed legal guardian has responsibility for the child

Children who come to Sweden without a legal guardian are treated as unaccompanied refugee children. If the parents of the child are here in Sweden, they are the legal guardians of the child. Unaccompanied refugee children are appointed a trustee who helps the child with issues that parents otherwise help with.

If you are married to a child you can never assume the parents'

enter image description here

or a trustee's responsibilities. You as the husband/wife of a child also cannot speak on behalf of the child.

Illegal to have sex with children under the age of 15

In Sweden it is illegal to have sex with someone under the age of 15. This applies even if you are married and even if you have children together. Children under 15 have an absolute right to be protected from sexual activities. Someone who has sexual intercourse or engages in another type of sexual activity with a child is committing a sexual crime.

The purpose of these rules is to protect the child.

If the one you are married to is an unaccompanied refugee child

Social services have the de facto responsibility for all unaccompanied refugee children. This includes arranging accommodation for the child. It is the responsibility of the Swedish Migration Agency to arrange accommodation for adult asylum seekers. Social services investigate the child's need for protection and support and suggests an accommodation for the child.

Social services can suggest that you do not live together for a shorter or longer period. The purpose is to ensure that the child receives the protection and support it is entitled to.

Since children under the age of 15 have an absolute right to protection from sexual activity, it is inappropriate that you live together if the child is under the age of 15. This applies even if you have children together.

Both social services and the Swedish Migration Agency will work to give the child the opportunity to express its opinion regarding where to live and under what circumstances. It is with the child and the trustee that the social services will cooperate and that together with social services may decide for the child.

enter image description here

If you want more information about what applies to Sweden, you can turn to the public servants at the Swedish Migration Agency or to social services.

On the website New in Sweden you will find out more about the Swedish society in several languages.

  • 5
    And so, now that we've seen the full content of the pamphlet, it turns out that it indeed does contain information about navigating the welfare system that is specific to people married to children (specifically, how the welfare system will deal with the different housing entitlements of adult and child refugees in the case of a married couple), as I predicted it would before seeing the full pamphlet. In other words, everything claimed in the original Tweet was true, contrary to the first section of this answer. – Mark Amery Apr 3 '18 at 15:49
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    @MarkAmery That is a false claim. The pamphlet does not contain any advice of the sort "This is what you as an adult married to a child must do in order to get welfare". The pamphlet says "This is how the welfare system will take care of the child, and you have no say in the matter. Instead, we have some rather stern recommendations for you. Oh, and if you attempt to have sex with the child, you are a sex offender; a detested criminal... FYI". – MichaelK Apr 3 '18 at 15:54
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    @MichaelK 'The pamphlet does not contain any advice of the sort "This is what you as an adult married to a child must do in order to get welfare"' - nor did the Tweet claim that it did. You're rebutting a version of the claim that you've fantasised, not the one that was actually made. – Mark Amery Apr 3 '18 at 15:56
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    @MarkAmery The original tweet states: "meant to help guide men who marry underage girls through the Swedish welfare system". If you think that a statement of the sort "This is what is going to happen, and you have no say in the matter" is a "guide through [...] the system", then you and I have very different opinions on that matter. The only "guide" of sorts there is and that the adult can act upon is to inform the adult of what the Swedish state thinks about having sex with children, i.e. "DON'T!". Do you think "guidance" like that is bad or should not be stated? – MichaelK Apr 3 '18 at 16:00
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    @MarkAmery Nonsense. Unless you think telling people "child marriage is illegal in Sweden, the age of consent is 15, there are no exceptions, and social services may separate you from your child" is the same thing as helping "men who marry underage girls through the Swedish welfare system". Which maybe you do, but that's clearly not how the original claimant meant it. They're trying to assert that the pamphlet is welcoming/supportive of child marriage in some way. It very clearly is not, and the original claim is therefore false as stated in the answer. – aroth Apr 4 '18 at 7:34
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For completeness, here is the full 4 page pamphlet together with an English translation:

enter image description here

Information to you who are married to a child

enter image description here

Child marriage is illegal in Sweden

In Sweden it is illegal to marry anyone under the age of 18. There are many reasons for this.

Children have a right to be children and to not have the responsibilities that come with marriage. Children should go to school, get an education, develop as their own person, develop their own interests. Early marriages often lead to early parenthood, which leads to increased risks for the child, both in the short term and in the long term. Getting married early can also lead to negative health impacts, both physically and psychologically, an increased risk for poverty or to be subject to oppression and violence.

This applies in Sweden:

  • All children, girls and boys, have the same rights.
  • Anyone who has entered marriage has the right to get a divorce, even if the other partner does not want to get a divorce.
  • Sex is voluntary, also within marriage.
  • Everyone should have access to information about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • A girl/woman has the right to an abortion if she wishes to end a pregnancy.
  • When a person has reached the age of 18 that person has the right to decide for her-/himself.

Legal guardian, trustee, or specially appointed legal guardian has responsibility for the child

Children who come to Sweden without a legal guardian are treated as unaccompanied refugee children. If the parents of the child are here in Sweden, they are the legal guardians of the child. Unaccompanied refugee children are appointed a trustee who helps the child with things that parents otherwise help with.

If you are married to a child you can never assume the parent's

enter image description here

or the trustee's responsibilities. As the husband/wife of a child you cannot speak on behalf of the child.

Illegal to have sex with children under the age of 15

In Sweden it is illegal to have sex with someone under the age of 15. This applies even if you are married and even if you have children together. Children under 15 have an absolute right to be protected from sexual activities. Someone who has sexual intercourse or engages in another type of sexual activity with a child is committing a sexual crime.

The purpose of these rules are to protect the child.

If the one you are married to is an unaccompanied refugee child

Social services have the practical responsibility for all unaccompanied refugee children. This includes arranging accommodation for the child. It is the responsibility of the Swedish Migration Agency to arrange accommodation for adult asylum seekers. Social services investigates the child's need for protection and support and suggests an accommodation for the child.

Social services can suggest that you don't live together for a shorter or longer period. The purpose is to ensure that the child receives the protection and support it is entitled to.

Since children under the age of 15 have an absolute right to protection from sexual activity, it is inappropriate that you live together if the child is under the age of 15. This applies even if you have children together. Both social services and the Swedish Migration Agency will work to give the child the opportunity to express its opinion regarding where to live and under what circumstances. It is with the child and the trustee that the social services will cooperate and together they will decide for the child.

enter image description here

If you want more information about what applies to Sweden, you can turn to the social servants at the Swedish Migration Agency or to social services.

On the website New in Sweden you will find out more about the Swedish society in several languages.

  • 21
    +1 for the translation. Is it OK if I copy the translations to my answer? – MichaelK Mar 29 '18 at 16:17
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    @MichaelK Yes, that would be great. – jkej Mar 29 '18 at 16:25
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    It's interesting that the said document is published in Swedish, while simultaneously being targeted to recently arrived migrants of Islamic origin (see the cover page) who were married elsewhere, who presumably do not speak fluent Swedish. – March Ho Mar 30 '18 at 13:06
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    @MarchHo But note that it could be relevant to other cultures as well: Under German law, before July 2017, one of the partners was allowed to 16 (and needed an ok from a court), so the pamphlet could apply to some German immigrants; in the USA, certain minors (in some states down to the age of 13) can marry, provided the parents and/or a court agree – Hagen von Eitzen Mar 31 '18 at 22:48
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    I'd speculate that there would have been translations, had the pamphlet not been redacted. (Which I think is a shame, it seems to contain relevant information.) – eis Apr 1 '18 at 8:37

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