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UK: Forced Marriage

UK: Forced Marriage

Today the Home Office and two charities are launching a 24 hour national helpline for victims of forced marriage and honour violence.

The helpline called ‘The Honour Network’ will be staffed by survivors of forced marriage and honour violence.

It is being launched at a conference at Stoke on Trent’s Civic Centre today.

Karma Nirvana and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation are behind the initiative.

Jasvinder Sanghera from the Karma Nirvana women’s refuge says “Fears of retribution, and the authorities’ failure to understand the problem completely, mean the vast majority of victims were still too scared to come forward for help. Therefore forced marriages and honour violence is under reported and we need to monitor it effectively. Hopefully the helpline will do this. Posters will be circulated around schools, police station, social service departments around the country”.

What is a forced marriage?

According to the Home Office, in a forced marriage you are coerced into marrying someone against your will. You may be physically threatened or emotionally blackmailed to do so. It is an abuse of human rights and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis.

It’s not the same as an arranged marriage when you have a choice as to whether to accept the arrangement or not. The tradition of arranged marriages has operated successfully within many communities and countries for a very long time.

Facts and figures

From the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit:

  • Up to 17,000 women in Britain are being subjected to “honour” related violence, including murder, every year (source ACPO)
  • 5000 people a year contact the Government’s forced Marriage unit
  • The Forced Marriage Unit handled approximately 400 cases last year, 167 of them leading to young Britons being helped back to the UK to escape unwanted partners overseas
  • 30% of those 300 are minors – 11 years old
  • 5% of those 300 are male
  • 65% of those cases are Pakistani Muslim women
  • The Karma Nirvana centre in Derby deals with 15 new cases a week and gets 200 calls a month
  • It says the number of girls falling victim to forced marriages, kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and even murder by relatives intent on upholding the “honour” of their family is up to 35 times higher than official figures suggest.
‘The Honour Network’ helpline number is 0800 5999247
It will be operational from 4pm today (Friday 10th April) and will be manned from 9am-9pm every day of the week (Mon-Sun)

Source: GMTV – 10 April 2008

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