The bill, which the German cabinet approved on Wednesday, would make it a felony to force someone to marry. Forced marriage had already been ruled illegal under federal statutes barring aggravated coercion, but the new legislation, which would provide for sentences of up to five years in prison, would make the prohibition more specific.
It would also significantly lengthen the time period in which women who have lived in Germany, but were then taken abroad to enter into forced marriages, woulld have to lodge complaints with German authorities, in order to regain their right to residence in Germany. Up until now, women affected by the practice could lose their right to live in Germany after six months. Under the new law they would have 10 years to seek legal recourse.In the meantime, France reaffirmed its commitment to its ban on the public wearing of burqa-like veils, even (or, especially) in the face of threats of revenge on French citizens from Osama Bin Laden.
Keep in mind that France is not the only country that is worried about women being veiled in public. Turkey is another such place, as noted in this week's Economist:
The headscarf remains at the core of the continuing battle between overtly pious and pro-secular Turks. The former insist it is an expression of faith. The latter retort that it is a symbol of political Islam, a stab in the heart of Ataturk’s republic. More than half of Turkish women cover their heads in some way, and the number is growing. Yet the garment has long been barred from schools and universities. Headscarved women cannot work in state institutions or run for parliament. When the mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) party tweaked the constitution in order to ease the headscarf ban soon after being re-elected in 2007, it was threatened with closure by a prosecutor and only narrowly survived.