Danish authorities praised for offering municipal marriage counselling

A number of municipalities in Denmark have recently introduced relationship counselling services, drawing praise for their efforts to reduce divorce rates.

Danish authorities praised for offering municipal marriage counselling
File photo: Bjarke Ørsted / Ritzau Scanpix

Jane Heitmann, a health spokesperson with the opposition Venstre (Liberal) party, said she was pleased to see local authorities trying to help relationships prosper.

“We can unfortunately observe that more and more couples are struggling for one reason or another, and that families sometimes find it hard to get along,” Heitmann said.

“That’s why I think municipalities deserve praise for taking the initiative to help more families prosper and stay together,” she added.

A recent survey conducted by newspaper Politiken found that 67 of the 98 municipalities in Denmark offer relationship counselling.

That is an increase from 2 out of 10 in 2013.

The social spokesperson with the governing Social Democrats, Camilla Fabricius, also said the trend was a positive one.

But Fabricius added that more data was required before any decision on whether to roll the scheme out to the rest of the country.

“It’s very interesting to see how much success municipalities are having with this, because it’s all about prevention on a mental health and personal level,” she said.

“We help a lot of people with the physical health aspect, so public services also helping with mental health is sensible,” she said.

Heitmann said she was open to the idea of state funding for the concept.

“If the municipalities want to expand this, it would be an ideal subject to look at when the municipalities negotiate their budgets with the government,” she said.

Denmark’s divorce rate in 2018 was 46.5 percent, and has remained at around that level for a number of years.

READ ALSO: Mandatory 'divorce course' for parents splitting up in Denmark

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France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had ‘marital duty’ to have sex with husband

A case has been brought against France at the European Court of Human Rights by a woman who lost a divorce case after judges ruled against her because she refused to have sex with her husband.

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had 'marital duty' to have sex with husband
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

The woman, who has not been named, has brought the case with the backing of two French feminist groups, arguing that the French court ruling contravened human rights legislation by “interference in private life” and “violation of physical integrity”.

It comes after a ruling in the Appeals Court in Versailles which pronounced a fault divorce in 2019 because of her refusal to have sex with her husband.

READ ALSO The divorce laws in France that foreigners need to be aware of

The court ruled that the facts of the case “established by the admission of the wife, constitute a serious and renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage making intolerable the maintenance of a shared life”.

Feminist groups Fondation des femmes (Women’s Foundation) and Collectif féministe contre le viol (Feminist Collective against Rape) have backed her appeal, deploring the fact that French justice “continues to impose the marital duty” and “thus denying the right of women to consent or not to sexual relations”.

“Marriage is not and should not be a sexual servitude,” the joint statement says, pointing out that in 47 percent of the 94,000 recorded rapes and attempted rapes per year, the aggressor is the spouse or ex-spouse of the victim.