Northern Light


The conservative Danish government was heavily criticized for its immigration reform back in 2002. The cause for criticism: After having married Danish citizens foreigners were not allowed to enter Denmark until the age of 24. This was done to prevent immigrant parents from forcing their daughters to marry someone from their home country at an early age and without getting any education, a tradition that made integration very difficult. Critics said this violated fundamental rights of immigrants.

According to sociologist Mehmet Necef from the University of Southern Denmark, himself an immigrant the positive results are obvious: A growing a number of immigrant women are taking control of their own lives, and thereby breaking with oppressive family traditions.

Official statistics say that 25 out of 100 immigrants and descendants are now marrying Danes. In 2001 the figure was 16 out of 100, and for women the trend is even stronger. Every third immigrant woman now marries a Dane. In 2001 62.7% of immigrants from non-Western countries married someone from outside Denmark. Last year the figure was just 37.8%.

Says Mehmet Necef to the newspaper Politiken:

”The law has created a world of opportunities for women. It’s now legitimate to postpone marriage, it’s legitimate to get outside home and therefore the family as lost control over these young women.”
He adds: ”The most interesting thing about the figures is the growing number of marriages between immigrant women and Danes. You can’t help but being optimistic. Love is the best way to integrate [immigrants].”

Politiken adds that it’s especially Iranians and people from the former Yugoslavia that marry Danes, while citizens of Turkish and Pakistani background are less inclined to choose a Dane for marriage. Iraqis and Lebanese are somewhere in the middle.