Parwin, a 30-year-old Afghan woman, told newspaper Aftenposten that she fled the country with her daughters, who are now with relatives in Pakistan, to escape an arranged marriage planned for one of them by her husband, who was also abusive towards her.
She has now been denied family reunification with the daughters by authorities, who cited a lack of documentation for her right to custody – something that does not exist in the sharia law under which she married.
“I thought all my troubles would be over in Europe,” Parwin told Aftenposten.
The woman left Afghanistan because she wanted to help her daughters avoid the fate she suffered: being forced into an arranged marriage as a second wife to a man thirty years older than her.
She was given asylum in Norway because she fled from an abusive marriage, reports Aftenposten.
But her four daughters have been denied permission to join her in Oslo by both the Directorate of Immigration (Utlendingsdirektoratet, UDI) and Immigration Appeals Board (Utlendingsnemnda, UNE).
Both agencies cite the lack of documentation that the woman has parental responsibility for the girls in their assessments of her case.
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In its conclusion, UNE refers to Afghan civil law, which states children are automatically the property of the father, reports Aftenposten.
Family law in Afghanistan is a combination of law, traditional rights and sharia law.
“It is disgusting and a case of double standards that Norwegian authorities give precedence to women’s rights in aid work, but apply sharia law in asylum policies,” said Afghanistan specialist Karina Standal at Oslo’s Centre for Development and Environment.
Department leader Camilla Myhrer Abrahamsen of UNE told Aftenposten that the authority did not accept what is sees as discriminatory aspects of sharia, despite having to use them in its case assessments.
“There are a lot of immigration cases where rejections involve someone being subjected to discriminative social systems. But this does not mean that the Norwegian authorities accept this type of discrimination,” she said.
Aftenposten reports that Parwin is now based in Oslo, where she has begun an introductory course in Norwegian.
She said that her husband wanted their 12-year-old daughter to leave school as he considered her “old enough for marriage”.
“When you have experienced forced marriages yourself, you do not wish the same for your daughters,” she said.
The newspaper did not report the woman’s full name out of consideration for the security of her daughters.