Table 1: Summary of forced marriage cases and cases relating to authoritarian upbringing and control of girls’ sexuality dealt with by municipal child welfare services. Number of children


As of

October 2006


















Important topic in other agencies, but few statistics available

Family counselling services currently receive few inquiries that can be regarded as relating to forced marriage. However, the family counselling offices in Oslo are concerned about this problem and consider their expertise in family conflict management to be highly relevant in such cases. This report supports the view that family counselling services should be involved to a greater extent in dealing with conflicts between young people and their parents, provided that the physical and mental safety of the young person is safeguarded.

The staff of upper secondary schools and public health clinics in Oslo also receive inquiries from young people who are being pressured to marry, but several public health nurses consider a strict, controlling upbringing to be as big a problem as forced marriage. Most of the inquiries come from girls, but boys are affected as well. The young people who come to talk to the nurses often feel strongly pressured to remain loyal to their family, and they are struggling to find a way out that does not entail breaking with their family. The conclusion is that public health nurses, counsellors and upper secondary teachers should be better prepared to deal with this problem. Not least, these groups of professionals should be given help to “see” young people in difficulty and not merely wait for the young people to contact them. Of the Norwegian embassies that have provided data, only the embassy in Islamabad has reported that it is regularly contacted by young people who are in danger of a forced marriage.

Different types of cases at specialised agencies

The data that was examined consisted of 64 “acute crisis cases” at SEIF, 172 “specific inquiries” to the Red Cross Information Helpline and 114 cases handled by the Directorate of Immigration’s Expert Team in 2006. The Red Cross proved to be involved in 49 of the Expert Team’s cases. Apart from that, we found little duplicate registration of cases. The vast majority of cases and inquiries concern girls and young women. Pakistan and Iran are clearly the most common national backgrounds in the cases registered by all the agencies. Between 67 and 90 % of the persons concerned are between 15 and 25 years old.

The survey is based on the statistical unit used by each agency itself as the most important category in its own statistics, and the delimitation of this unit (“case”) varies from one agency to another. This is primarily due to the fact that the agencies have different roles and working methods, and thus also a different basis for registration of cases and statistics. A review of the agencies’ registration procedures show clear potential for improvement, but there are no grounds for claiming that the agencies deliberately inflate the figures.

Table 2: Total overview of specialised agencies. Number of cases/inquiries and number of individuals, broken down by gender. 2006

UDI’s Expert Team

Red Cross


Number of “cases”




“specific inquiries”


“acute crisis cases”

Number of individuals affected




Gender (number)







Gender (%)







The MiRA Resource Centre reported 66 cases in the category “forced marriage requiring follow-up” in the first ten months of 2006. Figures from crisis centres for 2006 are not yet available, but in 2005 the centres registered 64 residents who stated that a forced marriage was the cause of their initial stay at the centre.

Significant number of unrecorded cases likely

The discussion regarding statistics has a two-part conclusion. Firstly, existing case statistics cannot on the whole be said to be a satisfactory measure of the extent of specific individual problems. This is not a major problem as long as the limitations of the statistics are clearly stated, a principle that is often transgressed these days. Secondly, and considerably more important, there are strong reasons to assume that the actual number of genuine problems is far higher than these statistics show. In particular, there are solid grounds for stating that the low number of cases registered by public agencies must not be used to play down the extent of the problem. Instead it is a troubling indication of how little is recorded by the present system. The problem lies partly in young people not asking for help, and partly in them not being seen.

Great need and desire for expertise

The results of the survey of the need for specialised expertise in child welfare services, family counselling services, school counsellors and public health nurses are unequivocal. These agencies both need and want to have more expertise, but training must to a greater degree be adapted to the needs of individual occupational groups. An in-depth analysis of complex problems and dilemmas is also sorely needed. Many people are interested in the subject and have acquired considerable practical experience, but support services are still too dependent on fortuity and dedicated individuals. The general pattern is that those who have experience of this problem are the ones who request more knowledge. Moreover, the survey shows that there is a strong need to develop methods and professionalise efforts.

“Forced marriage” too narrow

The term “forced marriage” designates a problem that is difficult to delimit and expose, both as a problem and as a “case”. A main conclusion of this survey is that “forced marriage” often becomes too narrow a focus. It is time to focus on a broader complex of problems that can be called “strict authoritarian and patriarchal upbringing aimed at protecting family honour and particularly daughters’ sexual chastity”. Young people who need help must be given more options for obtaining assistance.

Authoritarian upbringing and control of young women’s sexuality

Control can consist in strict rules, monitoring and the imposition of sanctions for breaches of norms, but also the fear of potential reactions. The mechanisms and methods of control include a broad range of physical and psychological violence, including threats of violence, harassment and humiliation, threats of and actual exclusion from the community, and “emotional blackmail”. The most serious forms of violence include murder and pressure to commit suicide. Besides forced marriage, control may include prohibiting a woman from having a boyfriend or any male friends at all. For married women, it is a question in some cases of being forced to stay in a marriage against their will and of tolerating violence and abuse in their marriage because the family or families oppose divorce. In other words, this problem is related to parents who limit their children’s right of self-determination, freedom of movement and freedom of participation in society as well as the right not to be subjected to violence and other humiliation.

Marginalised topic for particularly interested persons in the non-governmental sector

The work on this survey has highlighted certain general deficiencies in the assistance currently available to young people who are subjected to forced marriage, violence and control. After ten years on the political agenda, forced marriage is still a topic reserved for particularly interested persons and special measures, a topic that is largely dealt with outside the ordinary public support services. The field is dominated by project-based, ad hoc measures run by non-governmental organisations. In the report we ask whether the Norwegian authorities are acting responsibly in leaving it mainly up to non-governmental organisations to address the problem of such serious abuse and dangerous situations. This is not intended as a criticism of such organisations, but as a strong call for putting in place coherent, sustainable efforts in the public support services. Reassigning responsibility in this way will not render the organisations superfluous, but their role will be more that of supplementing and offering a critical alternative to public agencies.

Invisible in violence prevention efforts

The report points to a paradoxical combination of the “hypervisibility” of forced marriages in the media and their virtual invisibility in the ordinary support services. It is particularly unfortunate that these forms of violence and oppression have been marginalised in the policy fields of “domestic violence against women” and “violence against and abuse of children”, and in the child welfare services in general. The range of measures designed to prevent “domestic violence” primarily targets partner violence, while violence against daughters or sisters is invisible. It is claimed that this delimitation has resulted in the marginalisation, in terms of organisation and expertise, of forced marriage as a form of abuse. The child welfare services call, among other things, for greater focus on possible conflicts between the best interests of the child, on the one hand, and the norms of collaborating with parents and implementing measures at the lowest possible level on the other. To a greater degree, it must be recognised that the child welfare services’ statutory duty to inform parents can cause immediate escalation of the threat in the most serious cases.

More follow-up after breaking with the family, more solution models

There is a long way to go before young people who fear or are in danger of forced marriage have a satisfactory range of support services in Norway . As regards the content of support services, attention is focused on two precarious deficiencies: 1. The lack of follow-up for young people who break with their family, particularly as regards their mental health, and 2. The very limited help available for those who do not wish or need to break with their family. More programmes for dealing with family conflicts are required as an alternative or necessary supplement to helping the young person to make the break.

A number of proposed measures

The report proposes a number of measures and action to improve support services for young people and families. Among other things, the Expert Team for the Prevention of Forced Marriage must be strengthened and moved from the Directorate of Immigration to an agency responsible for preventing domestic violence. Coordination of crisis housing must be transferred from non-governmental organisations to public agencies, and a specialised child welfare institution must be established as soon as possible. In line with the report’s general recommendation, the Ministry is urged to carry out a survey of authoritarian upbringing and control of girls’ sexuality, in part based on the experience gained in an ongoing Swedish survey.

Appended to this report is a memorandum concerning the possibilities of carrying out a representative questionnaire survey on the incidence of force in arranged marriages. It is argued that while this is feasible, there will be significant challenges as regards the methods employed.

Universities and colleges

Although Norwegian women make traditional choices in terms of their education and careers, Norway nevertheless has a very high proportion of women with higher educational qualifications. The advance of women into higher education might be described as a silent revolution, a gradual increase that has totally changed gender representation in higher education over a 30-year period. There are now more women starting and completing higher education than men.

Girls and women are now choosing from among far more careers than in the past, and previously male dominated educations such as the medical and veterinary programmes of study are attracting a steadily increasing percentage of women.

Today there is a majority of female students in almost all the major scientific fields of study in the universities. One exception is the natural sciences, engineering sciences and craftsmanship, where 70 percent of the students are men. In health and care taking, 80 percent of the students are women.

More than 21 per cent of Norwegian women have a university or college education, compared with 16 per cent of Norwegian men. However, there are still more men with a long university education (more than four years). In the 25-39 age group, more than 40 per cent of Norwegian women have a university or college education, compared with 18 per cent in the 60-66 age group. The difference between the various age groups is far less marked in the case of men. In the under-50 age group, a larger proportion of women then men have higher education, while in the over-50 age group the reverse is the case.

Highest level of education for women and men aged 16 and over, 1990 and 2004.

Per cent.

Level of Education


Women Men


Women Men

Primary school

36.3 30.1

21.4 17.6

Secondary School

49.7 53.0

53.9 59.3

University/college 4 years

12.7 11.7

21.2 15.9

University/college more than 4 years

1.3 5.2

3.6 7.2

Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST)

The OECD has compared the percentage of students with a Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) orientation from different countries. Norway is one of the countries where the trend has been the most negative; the percentage in the last ten years has decreased considerably.

And Norwegian girls and women choose MST to å considerably lesser extent than boys and men. This is å trend in much of the western world, and interest is not increasing: the percentage of girls who graduate from natural science subjects and technical subjects has remained at about 25 per cent for the last ten years. A majority of the students who choose MST in upper secondary education often do this in order to be able to apply for restricted programmes of study, e.g. medicine.

The Government’s strategy to encourage untraditional educational choices at Universities and Colleges

When assessing students for higher education, additional points may be awarded for applicants of the gender that is clearly under-represented. As of 1 January 2005 additional points are awarded for female applicants to specific engineering and informatics studies, and to agricultural and maritime college studies. Similarly, men are awarded additional points if they apply for animal nursing and veterinary studies. The Ministry of Education and Research may also set special quotas for certain courses in special circumstances. As of today, quotas have been established for female applicants for two specific master’s degree programmes in engineering subjects.

Strategies to promote girls and women’s interest in Mathematics, Science and Technology – including ICT

The Ministry of Education and Research has launched a programme to promote mathematics and science subjects entitled Mathematics and science subjects naturally – strategy to strengthen mathematics and science subjects in the period 2002-2007 . The strategy was revised 2006 and given the title Strategy 2006-2009 ; A Joint Promotion of Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) and now focuses more strongly on recruiting girls and women to these subjects. Several national centres are involved in this process, including the Mathematics Centre – the national centre for mathematics in education and “Renate” – the national centre for contact with business and industry on recruitment to mathematics and science subjects. The centres focus especially on efforts to increase the interest of girls and women in these subjects. One of the tasks of the centres is to seek to increase the number of women applying for mathematics, science and technology studies and careers.

Digital Gender Divides

In late 2004 the Ministry of Education and Research commissioned a report as a part of the Ministry’s ongoing Programme for Digital Literacy. The report is titled "Digital Gender Divides".

Digital Gender Divides in Norway : What do we know?

Main features:

The use of ICT has become part of everyday life for boys and girls/men and women in today's society.

The divides we observed between genders with regard to interest in and use of ICT in the mid 1990s are less visible today.

There are considerable differences within each gender group with regard to the use of ICT.

There are different kinds of digital competencies that run across the genders.

There are some visible differences with regard to ICT usage between the majority of boys/men and girls/women

Bottom line:

There is a large variability in the use of ICT and digital competencies for both genders.

We have not come far enough in defining what kind of digital competencies everybody should possess.

Among pupils (primary and secondary education) we find that

The majority of both boys and girls use computers to a larger degree outside school than at school

the level of education on the part of the parents influences both boys' and girls' use of computers at home

boys, whose fathers have higher education, have the most extensive and varied use of ICT

girls and boys mean that they have equal competence in those areas in school where ICT is used

boys spend considerable more time in front of the computer at home than girls do

Most boys at all ages have a larger interest in computer games than girls

the majority of girls show the greatest interest in using ICT for communication purposes

many young girls are advanced users of mobile technologies


there is a risk for digital divides between girls and boys because

boys have a more extensive and varied use of ICT at home compared to girls

the educational level of the fathers has a great impact on boys' use of ICT

Few schools are able to offer a varied use of ICT that exploits and further develops girs and boys different interests and competencies

Schools that invests heavily in a broad and integrated use of ICT in the subject matter achieve the best equality between boys and girls

As a follow up of this report the Ministry of Education and Research, in cooperation with OECD, will arrange an OECD-expert meeting on gender, ICT and education that will take place in Norway in the spring 2008.

The topics to be covered during this expert meeting will be the following: The knowledge base about gender differences in the use of digital technologies and its implications for education.

What causes could explain these differences?

Which could be the most appropriate responses, both in terms of the educational strategies and policymaking?

The choice of stream of study in upper secondary school

Educational and occupational choices are formed throughout the educational process. However, t he choice of stream of study on a foundation course in upper secondary school is the first major formal educational choice a young person makes after ten years of primary and lower secondary education. This choice has a fairly large impact on pupils’ subsequent educational path, although there are also possibilities for qualifying for higher education on the basis of a foundation course on a vocational stream.

The distribution of first-year students between the different streams of study not only reflects the young people’s desires. It may also be affected by the available capacity on the various streams around the country. Nevertheless the figures give a fairly good picture of young Norwegians’ choice of stream of study in upper secondary education. There are gender differences in terms of the distribution of students between the various streams in the first year of upper secondary school. On some streams of study, such as Health and Social Studies and Design, there is a majority of girls. On other streams of study, such as Construction, Electrical and Mechanical studies there is a majority of boys. The gender distribution on the various streams of study has been relatively stable in recent years. From the end of the 1990s until 2004, the only significant changes in gender distribution have been in streams of study with very few places, such as Environmental Studies and Chemistry and Processing. The gender distribution for the new subjects Media and Communication and Sales and Service, which were introduced in 2000, is rather more equal than for the other streams of study.

No comprehensive surveys have been carried out of the reasons for traditional choices of education in Norway in recent years. The Norwegian Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education carried out surveys of this type in the early 1980s and in the 1990s. There is reason to believe that many of the findings of these surveys have not changed significantly.

Why do girls make the choices they do in upper secondary education? Some of the findings of a survey carried out in 1995 were as follows:

To have possibilities for work in the place where they live . 16 per cent of girls on the general course of study gave this as a reason, compared with 34 per cent of boys on vocational courses.

To satisfy their interest in specific subjects . Girls stressed this more often than boys.

To have a job where they could utilise their abilities.

To have a job that ensures contact with other people . 3 out of 10 boys believed this was important, compared with 6 out of 10 girls.

Possibility for a high income . This was regarded as important by 6 out of 10 boys on the general course of study and by only 3 out of 10 girls on vocational courses. In this area, there was a change in young people’s preferences from 1980 to 1991. Only 2 out of 10 pupils on the general course of study stated that a high income was important in 1980, compared with 4 out of 10 both in 1991 and 1995.

To have a job that can be combined with child care. This was important for 3 out of 10 boys on both the general and the vocational courses of study, for 4 out of 10 girls on the general course of study, and for 5 out of 10 girls on vocational courses.

To be able to help other people. This was important for 5 out of 10 girls on vocational courses, 4 out of 10 girls on the general course of study, but only for 2 out of 10 boys on both the general course and vocational courses.

The survey shows that girls pursue their interests in specific subjects. It will be necessary to focus continuously on young people’s career choices and also to encourage breadth in their educational interests.

Pupils’ performance

One of the factors that have affected the educational debate in Norway since the turn of the millennium is the steadily increasing focus on pupils’ performance. Even though Norwegian pupils and students make traditional educational choices, girls achieve better results than boys at school. Statistics from major international surveys and statistics showing the final grades of Norwegian pupils in upper secondary school not only show that girls score high in terms of grades, but that they also achieve better grades than boys. This has led to a debate in Norway about whether boys are now the losers and whether Norwegian schools are better suited to the development of girls’ cognitive skills.

As a measure to strengthen the gender perspective, the Ministry of Education and Research requested the Directorate of Education to develop a strategy to improve the gender equality in education on the basis of current knowledge and research into the reasons for boys’ and girls’ educational and career choices. The strategy will also be viewed in conjunction with other important education policy goals, such as recruitment to science subjects and the recruitment of men to work in day care centres, teaching, etc. The strategy will be completed before the summer of 2007 and will contain several practical measures for the period 2007 – 2011:

The Strategic Plan for Gender Equality 2007-2011

Work in progress in the Ministry of Education and Research, in collaboration with The Directorate for Education and Training.

Start in august 2007

Lasts for 5 years

National coordinator is The Directorate for Education and Training.

Focus on boys and girls age 0- 19 in early childhood training and care (kindergarten), primary and secondary education and training establishments

Will be evaluated.

Areas of Measures

The overall objective of the Strategic Plan:

A gender equalised society, where all people is given the opportunity to live accordingly to abilities and interests, irrespective of traditional gender expectations.

1 Main objective

The first objective is to ensure that the care, learning and learning environment in kindergarten, primary and secondary education and training establishments, promote gender equality between boys and girls.

Areas of measures:

Increase the number of kindergartens, training establishments and schools that integrate gender equality work in their daily activities.

Improve competence in kindergartens, training establishments and schools, about conditions that create gender equality between boys and girls.

2 Main objective

The learning process shall prepare boys and girls for education and a choice of profession according to ability and interests, irrespective of traditional gender expectations.

Areas of Measures:

Help children and young people to choose an education and profession, that do not depend on their gender.

Increase the recruitment of girls to education and a profession within mathematics and science.

Improve the gender balance in the vocational education.

3 Main objective

The third objective is to promote a better gender balance amongst employees in kindergarten and school.

Areas of Measures:

Improve the competence in gender issues and gender equality in preschool- teacher training and teacher training.

Increase the number of men that work in kindergartens and in schools, and increase the number of men that complete their teacher training.

Below we present some previous strategies and guides to strengthen the gender perspective in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education:

The heads of all Norwegian schools are responsible for ensuring that work on gender equality has high priority.

The Ministry of Education and Research has produced a brochure entitled Kjekk og pen (Handsome and Pretty, 2001). The brochure provides information on gender equality and gives examples of how the gender perspective can be implemented in different subjects and areas. The brochure also urges schools to implement appropriate measures. It is intended to be a guide for gender mainstreaming in primary and lower secondary schools.

Several other brochures and guides have been produced in recent years:

The former Norwegian Board of Education (now the Directorate of Education) and the former Centre for Gender Equality (now the Gender Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud) together produced the brochure Ungdom, film og kjønn. Håndbok for lærere om likestilling (Youth, Film and Sex. Handbook for teachers on gender equality), adapted for the medium level*, the lower secondary level and upper secondary schools. This material, which focuses especially on gender roles and the associated debate, was launched in August 2003 together with a teacher’s guide. The aim of this material is to make pupils more aware of role patterns, provide teachers with practical educational tools for this purpose, and follow up selected topics from the Kjekk og Pen brochure.

At the request of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs, in 2001 the Norwegian Board of Education produced the book Samliv og seksualitet. Ressursbok for lærere (Partnership and Sexuality. A resource book for teachers). The aim was to improve the competence of lower secondary school teachers and health personnel in teaching young people about partnership, sexuality and contraception.

As a follow-up to the project Conscious Educational Choices , which ended in 2000, the Norwegian Board of Education prepared a guide on educational and vocational counselling for counsellors in lower and upper secondary schools. The purpose of the project was to encourage young people make less traditional educational choices.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in its concluding observations of May 2005, has expressed concern about high incidence of eating disorders among young women (para 29). What measures are being taken to address this challenge, and to provide psychosocial support for young women suffering from such disorders? Please also indicate what public awareness raising efforts are in place to strengthen a positive image of young women in the media and advertising?

The incidence of eating disorders in Norway is relative stable (Götestam et al 2004).

In planning the services, special measures have been given to those already having developed eating disorders or those in the danger zone. In addition, priority has been directed at preventive measures. Eating disorders can in many cases be prevented. Early intervention and close monitoring can make the course and outcome more benign.

The supply of qualified personnel has increased by the e ducational programme “Body and self-confidence“. The programme is established in all the five regional health authorities, and has raised clinical competence in treating eating disorders.

Treatment shall, if possible, be received on a voluntary basis, in open and normally settings. Increased emphasis has been placed on primary health care service.

Special measures, however, have been given to people with serious eating disorders, requiring coordinated services over a longer period of time. One hospital in each of the five regional health authorities is responsibility for specialised health services to people with eating disorder.

Please provide further information, and in particular statistical data, on the prevalence of STIs including HIV/AIDS among Norwegian women, and trends over the past four years, highlighting in particular the situ ation among vulnerable groups.

Norway does not have particular statistical data on the prevalence of STI, in conclusion women in Norway get tested more often than men (e.g for T. Chlamydia) and for that reason detection of STIs will be higher among women. For example in 2005 and 2006 approximately 67% of the Chlamydia fi ndings where done among women.

New diagnosed Hiv infection among women 2003-2006:

2006: 91

2005: 97

2004: 103

2003: 93

Source: Norwegian Institute for Public Health

Women represent the vast majority of new diagnosis among toes infected with hiv before arrival to Norway . Most of the women come from the conflict areas in Central- and East Africa . The majority of the Asians diagnosed with hiv are women coming to Norway to live with their new, Norwegian husband. On the other hand there is very few diagnoses among women infected while living in Norway .

Networks for hiv positive women have been established. This is a difficult task, especially among immigrant women. Improvements can be seen, but more work needs to be done. Measures to increase the awareness of the role played by men have not however been given sufficient attention.

It is estimated that there are about 2555 women and men working as sex workers in Norway . The majority of sex workers are women. In 2005 the number of street sex workers was 1055, 70% of these being foreign, mainly from Eastern Europe and countries outside Europe with generalized HIV epidemics. 1500 sex workers are registered working on the indoor market – estimated number being 50% foreign. There has been an increase of foreign sex workers working especially in street prostitution from 2003 to 2005. In Oslo the number of foreign sex worker registered at the Pro centre was 644 in 2003 and 1064 in 2005. The number of Norwegian sex workers has decreased from 692 in 2003 to 463 in 2005.

The number of HIV tests taken at the main health clinic for sex workers in Oslo , the Pro centre, increased from 266 in 2004 to 464 in 2005. Based on the HIV findings in these samples, it is estimated that the HIV-prevalence among sex workers in Norway is about 2% in 2005. For 2006 there is a positive decline in all STI diagnoses among sex workers, including hiv infections.

There are a number of different organizations and public institutions working on prevention of HIV and STDs among sex workers in the major cities in Norway . Free condoms and lube, information, education and voluntary counselling and testing are key components in their work. Reaching-out casework and cultural intermediaries are methods being used. These methods have proven to be very successful in getting in contact and dialog with the sex workers both on the indoor market and on the streets. Based on their dialogue with the sex workers, they report that most sex workers have good knowledge about HIV and STIs and all claim the use of condoms with their clients. The amount of condoms being distributed every year to sex workers indicat es an extensive use of condoms.