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Dutch government proposes bill to counter marital captivity

08 december 2019

Femmes for Freedom is excited about the proposed bill to counter marital captivity. Once this bill has been enacted into law, it will be easier for couples and individuals to end a religious marriage. Femmes for Freedom has worked long and hard to make religious separation possible. The importance of such legislation cannot be underestimated: marital captivity is a violation of fundamental human rights and an act of violence against women. This bill is not only a demonstration of the Dutch government’s firm and indispensable position against marital captivity. It is also an instrument to help women to combat this kind of injustice. Thanks to the measures taken by the Dutch government, The Netherlands is the first country to help and protect women trapped in religious wedlock through law, policy and special care.

To give you an impression, Femmes for Freedom has done multiple proposals (in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018) to have clauses requiring both partners to cooperate in the dissolution of a religious marriage included in civil code. We are happy that our proposals have been adopted by the Dutch government.

After years of lobbying the bill against marital captivity is an important recognition for Femmes for Freedom. Since Femmes for Freedom was originally established for women in marital captivity in 2011, this achievement comes as a victory in its own right. To get there, we have successfully lobbied to criminalise marital imprisonment in The Netherlands, successfully carried out test cases, put the topic on the agenda of the United Nations committee on women’s rights and organised a hearing on marital captivity at the European Parliament.

Our knowledge on martial captivity comes straight from the source: women who have actually experienced it. Femmes for Freedom was founded by women who have suffered marital imprisonment that are now committed to helping out others in similar painful situations on a daily basis.

Although you might think our work is finished: far from it! Femmes for Freedom will keep helping women trapped in a religious marriage and all those who are suffering from any other kind of lack of freedom. Our aim is to get international recognition for the dire consequences of marital captivity.
As long as the dissolution of marriage is not included in legislation and not recognised by all nations, it is of great importance for Femmes for Freedom as well as other non-governmental organisations to start the dialogue with nations that still choose family law above national and international rules and regulations.

Femmes for Freedom calls for action and pleads for the European Union to take a stand by standardly including the topic of marital captivity during negotiations concerning international covenants. The European Union speaks on behalf of 28 member states, and can therefore make a huge difference on an international scale. Additionally, Femmes for Freedom wants to encourage the European Union to commit to investigating and implementing resolutions to counteract marital captivity.

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