On 29 March, Swedish website Fria Tider published an article on a curious information brochure titled “available from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

However, the board has now decided that:

“After strong reactions, the National Board of Health and Welfare has decided to retract the material on children who are married.”

On its website, Socialsyrelsen presented the brochure as:

(…) aimed at adults who are married to a child. This folder contains information about what rules apply in Sweden with regard to childhood marriage and children’s rights. The folder can be left to the spouse by social services or other professionals who meet the child.

To the brochure’s credit, it does explain that marrying a child, defined as someone under 18, is prohibited in Sweden – and then goes on to mention some of the “many reasons” for it. It then continues with some facts about life in Sweden:

“• All children, girls and boys have the same rights.

• Everyone who has married is entitled to divorce, even if the other partner does not want to get divorced.

• Sex is voluntary, even within marriage.

• Everyone should be given the opportunity to receive information about sexual and reproductive health and rights.

• A girl/woman has the right to an abortion if she wants to end a pregnancy.

• When a person has reached the age of 18, that person is entitled to decide over themselves.

It is worth stressing, that for all the talk of patriarchy and the likes, these are what the Swedish government thinks are such novel concepts for immigrants, that it has to be explained to them in a brochure. It goes on to explain how children in Sweden, if they are under-age are regarded as under the guardianship of their parents, not of that of a spouse they married abroad. It also explains, and again this is interesting as a contrast to the perceived ‘rape culture’ at US colleges, that:

In Sweden it is a criminal offence to have sex with someone under the age of 15 years. This also applies if you are married and even if you have children together. Children under age 15 have an absolute right to protection from sexual acts. Someone who has intercourse with, or carries out any other kind of sexual act with a child, is guilty of a sexual offence. These rules are in place to protect the child.

The brochure furthermore makes clear that it is considered “inappropriate” for a married couple, of which one of the partners is under 15, to live together “even if you have children together.

On social media, there is anger about the brochure. But it is hard to see the alternative. Child marriages are part and parcel of some cultures outside of Europe. The problem is bigger than a brochure: the real problem, is that not all cultural mores are compatible, and with mass-immigration, those mores will come to Europe. The real question then becomes: can we discuss this clash of civilisations, or will we pretend that the only problem is ‘racism‘? There is, at present, no reason to be optimistic about the answer that that question.