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Archive for July, 2013

Toughen forced marriage law – judge

Legislation designed to stop women being forced into marriage needs strengthening, a High Court judge has suggested.

Mr Justice Holman said ministers should consider improving the effectiveness of forced marriage protection orders. He was speaking at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London after dismissing contempt of court applications made against two women accused of breaching a forced marriage protection order prior to a Muslim wedding ceremony in Luton, Bedfordshire. Police said the women had breached the order – imposed by a judge to protect a teenage girl – and asked for them to be ruled in contempt of court. But Mr Justice Holman dismissed claims against the women after concluding that police did not have the legal authority to bring such contempt applications in civil courts. The judge said ministers should consider changes to improve the effectiveness of legislation designed to prevent forced marriages.

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High Court annuls marriage between Egyptian girl (16) and husband (29)

THE High Court annulled a marriage between a 16 year old Egyptian girl who married a 29 year old man against her wishes.


The marriage between the couple, who are both of the Islamic faith, was declared null and void after gardai and others raised concerns that the teen was the subject of a marriage against her will. R, the young girl, had very little contact with her future husband and was very apprehensive about the marriage, the High Court heard this morning. The young girl did not wish to marry at all, but the High Court said that her parents’s wishes took precedence over their daughter’s. The young girl ran away after her purported marriage ceremony in September 2010, prompting the HSE to seek care orders for the teen who is no longer living in Ireland. R left Ireland despite a court order restraining her removal out of the country.

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Teen girl wins freedom from forced wedding

Ireland: NEW laws may be necessary to protect very young people from being subjected to ‘forced’ marriages, a judge has warned.

His comment came after the High Court annulled the union between a 16-year-old Egyptian girl and a 29-year-old man whom she married against her wishes.

The marriage between the couple, who are both of the Islamic faith, was declared null and void, in a ruling which was delivered by Mr Justice John MacMenamin.

“While Irish society is becoming increasingly diverse and the Constitution attaches great significance to equality, children’s rights and the institution of marriage, there are no laws addressing marriages involving ‘no real consent’,” Mr Justice John MacMenamin said. An Irish charity warned that more cases of forced marriage have been identified in women living in Ireland. Plan Ireland said: “With changing patterns of migration into Ireland in recent years, it is not hugely surprising that cases of forced and child marriage among people living here have been identified.”

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Female Genital Mutilation Figures Are 12 Years Out Of Date

The figures on the number of women in the UK who have suffered female genital mutilation are radically out of date, meaning the problem could be far worse than feared, campaigners say.

The Home Office has agreed to fund a new study into the number of women living in the UK who have been “cut”, usually abroad, in order to identify girls vulnerable to FGM.

Equality Now told HuffPost UK they had lobbied the government for more than a year on the issue. The last set of figures were released in 2007, but based on analysis of the 2001 census, so more than a decade old.

Representatives from 210 villages meeting up for demonstration against child and enforced marriage and female genital mutilation in Senegal

More than 30 million girls are at risk of FGM over the next decade, a study by Unicef reported this week, with more than 125 million girls and women who have undergone the procedure now opposed. The ritual cutting of girls’ genitals is practised by mainly African, and also some Middle Eastern and Asian communities, who believe it protects the sexual purity of girls. No-one in the UK has every been prosecuted under the law which bans FGM. A Home Office spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “There is no justification for Female Genital Mutilation — it is child abuse and it is illegal. “We have agreed to help fund a new study into the prevalence of FGM in the UK. FGM is a key focus in our cross-Government action plan for tackling violence against women and girls and we are working with the Department for International Development and Department for Health to stamp out this abhorrent abuse.

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Minister welcomes NSPCC female genital mutilation helpline

NSPCC launches free 24 hour female genital mutilation (FGM) helpline. The Home Office is supporting the launch of a new NSPCC helpline to help protect more children in the UK from mutilation.

FGM is illegal in Britain

Information gathered from calls to the NSPCC helpline will provide police and child protection agencies with intelligence so action can be taken against those who facilitate FGM against young girls.

Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne said:

  • We need to ensure victims of female genital mutilation get the support they need and the new NSPCC helpline is a vital step towards eradicating this horrendous crime.
  • It builds on the work we have already undertaken through our violence against women and girls action plan to raise awareness, identify potential victims and prevent this form of child abuse.

The government has renewed its focus on protecting potential victims in the Violence Against Women and Girl’s Action Plan, placing prevention at the heart of its work.

The government has also launched a statement against FGM leaflet which outlines what FGM is, the legislation and penalties involved as well as information on the help and support available to victims and potential victims.

Scale of FGM to be revealed as Home Office orders new study

The official number of British girls at risk of female genital mutilation is set to increase after the Home Office announced it is updating its figures.

Currently 66,000 women in Britain are estimated to have fallen victim to the practice and a further 24,000 are at risk. But researchers said the numbers are out of date and do not reflect the true scale of the problem. The Home Office has announced it will help pay for researchers at City University and campaign group Equality Now to update the 12-year-old statistics. The Home Office will pay £16,000 and another charity will contribute a further £20,000 for the project. Experts predict a huge increase in the number of women in Britain now facing FGM, and hope the true figures will persuade the Government to take the issue more seriously.


“Priorities”: Efua Dorkenoo said updated figures will alter government policy

Efua Dorkenoo, of Equality Now, who came up with the original FGM estimates, said today’s figures will be higher because more women have moved to Britain from areas where FGM is prevalent and they are having more babies.

She said: “It is key to have updated figures to inform policy and decide priorities in education, health, and local authorities.” Ms Dorkenoo is also campaigning for hospitals to record how many women they see suffering from  FGM, which causes serious problems for pregnant women.

She added: “If maternity units record this information and it is standardised throughout the country we will be able to do a national audit.”

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Judge calls for new laws to help young forced into marriage

Ireland:  NEW laws may be needed to help young people placed in arranged or forced marriages, a Supreme Court judge has said.

The system for seeking exemptions from the legal age limit for marriage may also need to be reviewed as it raises child welfare questions, according to Mr Justice John MacMenamin of the Supreme Court. Judge MacMenamin raised the possibilities of new laws as it emerged that a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a 29-year-old man – both of whom are from the Islamic faith – was annulled by court order. Serious concerns remain for the welfare of the Pakistani-born girl, who was later taken to Egypt by her mother despite a court order restraining her removal from Ireland.

The marriage took place in an Islamic centre in 2010 and was annulled in September 2011 due to lack of “full, free and informed consent” on behalf of the teen. The girl, known only as R, had a brief acquaintance with her intended husband before the marriage.


Judge John MacMenamin highlighted the case of a 16-year-old who was in an arranged marriage

Persons aged under 18 must get the permission of the Circuit Family Court or the High Court to get married. Before the ceremony, two applications were made to exempt the girl from the age restriction and from the requirement to give three months’ notice of intention to marry.

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Female genital mutilation: 30 million girls ‘at risk’

The challenge is to let people – men and women – have their voices heard on the issue, Unicef says

More than 30 million girls are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) over the next decade, a study by Unicef has found.

It said more than 125 million girls and women alive today had undergone a procedure now opposed by the majority in countries where it was practised. Ritual cutting of girls’ genitals is practised by some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities in the belief it protects a woman’s virginity.

Unicef wants action to end FGM. The UN Children Fund survey, described as the most comprehensive to date on the issue, found that support for FGM was declining amongst both men and women. FGM “is a violation of a girl’s rights to health, well-being and self-determination,” said Unicef deputy executive director Geeta Rao Gupta, “What is clear from this report is that legislation alone is not enough.”

‘Speak out loudly’

The report, ‘Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change’, was released in Washington DC. The study, which pulled together 20 years of data from the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is still practised, found girls were less likely to be cut than they were some 30 years ago. They were three times less likely than their mothers to have been cut in Kenya and Tanzania, and rates had dropped by almost half in Benin, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria.

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Schools must do more to protect students from female genital mutilation

Many teachers have little knowledge or training about FGM. Louise Tickle looks at what they can do to safeguard students.

Mots of teachers aren’t even aware that female genital mutilation (FGM) goes on, says Lisa Zimmerman, a teacher at Bristol City Academy. She campaigns against FGM through the charity Integrate Bristol, which she co-founded five years ago. Zimmerman runs high-profile extra-curricular activities including plays and films looking at the issues raised by FGM in order to combat the practice. Despite all this, she says, “the girls in my project had to tell the health and social care teacher what FGM was”.

That teacher is not alone in being ignorant of the cultural practice of genitally mutilating young girls, or the physical and mental health disaster – sometimes even death – that can result from it. It’s reportedly practised in 48 African countries, as well as in the Middle East and Far East, and it’s estimated that 24,000 girls – mostly of primary age – are at risk of FGM in this country. Indications are that it is becoming more widespread in the UK as a result of immigration from countries where the practice is prevalent.

But teachers’ ignorance could result in schools failing the safeguarding element of an Ofsted inspection, as the regulatory body has included a section on FGM in their ‘Inspecting Safeguarding’ briefing, issued in January. Given that a recent NSPCC survey of 1,000 teachers demonstrated a shocking lack of knowledge of FGM, it may well be that when Ofsted inspectors ask about how their school deals with the issues it raises, senior leadership teams struggle to answer.

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