At the end of March, Sweden had quite a media storm due to a leaflet published by the country's National Board of Health and Welfare: "Information to you who are married to a child".
After media outcry, the brochure was pulled from distribution on the Board's Web pages, but it is of course available in original form in many places, e.g. here.
Some people have pointed out that there is nothing wrong with this, it is what the authorities should do - inform newly arrived migrants about what is not legal nor allowed in Sweden.
But the problem with this brochure is not that it informs about what is suitable in Sweden. It is the job of authorities to inform. But the way this brochure was written seems to indicate a huge level of naivety. It's written as "information to you who are married to a child", much as you would write a brochure "information on how to apply for child benefits" or "information on available interpreting services". It says that marriage to a child is "olämplig", which translates "inappropriate" or "improper". Nothing about the possible consequences - probably, because there are none.
Child marriage should be a crime in Sweden. What the brochure should have is a big red headline "Child marriage is forbidden in Sweden" and "Sex with minors is punishable with a jail term".
Of course, it cannot say this because it's not how things really stand. Swedish law is a bit weak here, and authorities are rather inefficient in working against child marriages, even forced marriages.
In 2016, the UN Association in Sweden complained that the legislation against child marriages is "toothless" in Sweden.
Göteborgsposten reported how 12-year-old Alicia was sent from Sweden to a forced marriage with a cousin in Iraq, where she had to submit to sex and give birth to children. Not on first try though; first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, simply because her reproductive organs were not quite ready yet at the age of 13. Then she had two children. When she finally managed to come back to Sweden some years later, her rapist (which is how I rather call the "husband") applied for custody of her children. And bizarrely, a Swedish court granted him joint custody, and because of this, he also got residence permit.
Also bizarrely, although child marriages are theoretically forbidden, the rules for child benefits specifically list that being married disqualifies a child from child benefits.
The brochure would surely serve its audience better if it had been published in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi, but then it maybe would not have quite got the media attention it now got. It is normal that controversial things get a lot of attention in Sweden if they are written in Swedish or English, but mosques are quite free to preach for murdering Jews if they do it in Arabic - even the state subsidies for organisations doing this are not impacted.
As such, the brochure indicates a sort of "racism of low expectations". Its infantile tone is directed at people who can read three-word sentences and then believe and trust them blindly. This is the actual shortcoming of the National Board of Health and Welfare. They think those brown people are not quite adults. Regardless of language, you would never write a brochure in this way to an ethnic Swede who plans to have sex with a 13-year-old girl. You would threaten him with prison.
Sweden is perhaps waking up. Just a few days before this outcry, the parliament accepted a motion to ban child marriages, although the government coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Left Party voted against it because the motion was initiated by the majority opposition. The media storm has then inspired many copycat brochure covers for related problems in Sweden:
"Information to you who are married to several children"
"Information to you who stone women to death for adultery"
"Information to you who are throwing hand grenades in residential areas"
"Information for you who are evading taxes"
(Mona Sahlin, former chairwoman of Social Democrats, had some tax trouble).
"Information to you who are still a Social Democrat"
"Information to you who are planning to hire black market workforce"
(This refers to a comedian who hired Rahmat Akilov to do some renovation for him, paying direct cash; later, Akilov became known as the terrorist who killed five people with a lorry in Stockholm)
"Information to policemen who are stabbed by children who arrive without parents"
(The man in picture tried to kill a policeman by stabbing him in the neck near a demonstration of young Afghans who were demanding a right to stay. Support groups call them "children".)
"Information to you who have pineapple in your pizza"
"Information to you who wonder what happened to your country"
PS. Why do I care? Why do I write this? Because my country tends to follow Sweden in most things, and because we're probably heading towards similar silliness. We and others are not going to fare much better than the Swedes.
Also, I hear a lot of relativisation "but there are child marriages in Finland an USA". Well, USA is slowly getting rid on them through legislation, and Finland has effectively done so; there are annually less than 10 marriages where one party is minor, and recently, in all cases the minor has been 17 years, usually marrying a spouse who is 19 or so - which is really quite different from a 15 or 13 or 12 year old child being married to a 40-year-old. The problem is not marriages entered to in Finland; it's the actual child marriages abroad which are then respected by authorities when they should not.