Duncan Lewis

Family Law

know matters can be both

highly sensitive and confusing

A government campaign to highlight the issue of forced marriages within the community.

Date: (16 July 2012)    |    

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The government has launched a campaign Right to Choose’ aimed at creating an awareness among young people that they might not admit that they are at a risk but forced marriages do happen and sitting silently was not the answer.

Early this year the Foreign & Commonwealth Office staff working abroad was called upon to provide assistance in 46 cases of forced marriage of which more than half was involving 19-25 year olds and a third were under 18s. The majority of cases involved females, but there were also 15% male victims.
It is being claimed the summer holidays were the peak time for young people to be taken overseas and forced into a marriage against their will.

In some cases they were taken on a supposed holiday to visit families abroad, but in fact a marriage was awaiting them. Once abroad, victims were often even more isolated than they might have been in the UK and getting help was more difficult.

To raise awareness of the risks and the help available in the run-up to the summer holidays, three hard-hitting films have been developed. They remind young people to speak up if they think they or someone they are close to are in danger.

Alistair Burt, Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, said forced marriage should not be tolerated. Young people have the right to choose whether to marry, who to marry, and when.

Anybody worried that they or a friend are at risk of being forced into marriage abroad should seek advice before it’s too late.

There may be only one chance to save yourself or someone else from a life they did not choose he added.

The FMU wants young people and professionals working with them to speak out about forced marriage, and seek advice and help before potential victims are taken abroad.

Lynne Featherstone, Home Office Minister, said forcing someone into marriage was completely unacceptable, that is why the government is making it a crime.

Everyone should have the right to make their own choices about their relationships and their future.

Making it illegal was just not enough on its own, for which the work of supporting and protecting victims were being taken up. The Right to Choose campaign was another vital part of the support which would help raise awareness of the damage being forced into marriage can do Ms Featherstone said.

Amy Cumming, Joint Head of the Forced Marriage Unit, said that every day in the unit they saw how devastating impact forced marriage has had on individuals. Many of the victims who contacted the unit had experienced horrendous sexual and physical violence.
They endure intense pressure in many forms, whether emotional, financial or otherwise. Forced marriage affects many communities and cultures.

She appealed to the people to back the Right to Choose campaign by not leaving it for too late instead call it’s helpline and get advice.