Femmes for Freedom
Femmes for Freedom is a Dutch Foundation, established on 5 December 2011. Femmes for Freedom advocates women’s rights and fights against forced marriage, marital captivity, polygamy, honor killing and forced abandonment of women during a family visit overseas. Femmes for Freedom is dedicated both to preventing these crimes and to (legally) assisting women who are held captive in a marriage.
Femmes for Freedom is a grassroots organisation that works on all levels of society to advocate change.
- FFF lobbies for change of legislation and policy in The Netherlands and abroad
- FFF raises awareness and assistance, in both civil society and politics
- FFF provides information for victims of marital captivity, as well as for NGO’s, social workers, lawyers, police, health care workers and other stakeholders.
- FFF offers victims legal support when they take legal action against their husbands.
- FFF initiated an online reporting tool through which victims of marital captivity can report, be identified and offered legal assistance.
Femmes for Freedom (FFF) successfully campaigned in Dutch Parliament for an expanded definition of forced marriage: not only forcing women into marriage, but also forcing them to remain in this marriage thus denying them the right to a (religious) divorce, included in the Dutch Penal Code. The Netherlands is the first country in the world that included marital captivity in its forced marriage bill.
Before this broader definition, marital captivity was already acknowledged as a wrongful act as well as the right to remarry and the right to establish a new family life according to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in Dutch jurisprudence. Recently the minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker acknowledged the need for a new provision in the Dutch civil code that provides that both partners will cooperate to enable the dissolution of a religious marriage. This provision has been 2012, 2014, (zie ook: A&MR 2014 Nr.02) and 2017. These changes in legislation place The Netherlands at the forefront of the battle against marital captivity.
But marital captivity is not just a Dutch problem; it has a strong international character. As the former Dutch Secretary of Justice, Fred Teeven, said “if Dutch divorces would be recognized everywhere, we would no longer be discussing marital captivity.” As long as not all divorces are recognized equally, it remains of the upmost importance to engage in bilateral and multilateral discussions with countries that have family laws enabling marital captivity. The EU speaks for its 28 members, and holds considerable influence during these negotiations. FFF encourages the EU to include family law and marital captivity as a discussion topic when negotiating new agreements, international human rights declarations and treaties, resolutions and EU law. It is high time that marital captivity is recognized as gender-based discrimination and violence and, for the international community to raise its voice. And together with you we can make this happen! Support our cause, which is your cause as well: CEDAW must rule! Marital captivity is violence against women! The right to divorce is a human right as well!