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Archive for June, 2018

South Yorkshire man wins protection order in forced marriage first

Police issue safeguarding order to protect male victim from honour-based abuse

A British man who was promised into marriage at five years old has become the first male in South Yorkshire to be granted a forced marriage protection order.

The teenage boy and his three younger siblings were all protected from becoming victims of forced marriage. The 19-year-old had received threats for not complying to a pre-arranged marriage, to which his parents had agreed when he was five.

It is the first time South Yorkshire police have issued a safeguarding order to protect a male victim from honour-based abuse.

DI Suzanne Jackson said the case was “a huge step forward”.

New cases of female genital mutilation in Norfolk

New victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Norfolk have been seen by NHS services over the last year.

While concentrated on larger cities across England, the new figures surprisingly show that cases are also found in the country’s smaller towns and rural regions.

Figures from NHS Digital show that in Norfolk at least three new victims of FGM – where female genitals are cut, injured or changed for no medical reason – were seen by doctors, nurses or midwives over the last year.

While around 6,400 women and girls with FGM were seen by NHS staff in England between April 2017 and March this year, an estimated 137,000 are thought to have been affected by it.

It is illegal in the UK, and carrying out FGM or assisting in it being conducted, either in the UK or abroad, can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: “FGM is a barbaric practice that leaves its victims physically and mentally scarred.

“We urge any young women or girls dealing with the physical and emotional impact of FGM to seek help and support.

“Sadly this abuse is all too commonplace – since the launch of our FGM helpline in 2013, we have received hundreds of calls from members of the public, as well as professionals who have questions about how best to support women and girls at risk of this complex form of abuse.”

Of those recorded as victims of FGM in the first quarter of 2018, the most common recorded injury was partial removal of genitalia.

Health chiefs’ FGM warning

AROUND 60 new victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Bradford have been seen by NHS services over the last year.

While concentrated on larger cities across England, new figures show that cases are also found in the country’s smaller towns and rural regions.

Only approximate numbers were recorded, to prevent identification of victims.

But figures from NHS Digital show that in Bradford around 80 victims of FGM – where female genitals are cut, injured or changed for no medical reason – were seen by doctors, nurses or midwives over the last year.

Of those, around 60 were having their injuries recorded by NHS services for the first time.

Dr Anne Connolly, clinical lead for maternity, women’s and sexual health for NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “FGM is a crime and it is an offence to assist the practice either within or outside the UK

“For the women who have had FGM, it can cause constant pain, infection, urinary concerns along with problems during sex. It can also be linked to depression, self-harm and can cause life threatening complications if they become pregnant.

“We are a City of Sanctuary and many refugees come to the city from countries where FGM is practised – typically in North Africa.

“Recently, all health care practitioners have been required to ask and record whether women have had FGM carried out.

Forced marriage convictions are welcome but for many victims stigma is still judge and jury

In the four years since a change in the law regarding forced marriages in England and Wales, there have been two cases where parents have been convicted of forcing their daughters to marry by taking them out of the country to their countries of origin.

One case, in Birmingham in May 2018, involved taking a daughter to Pakistan, the other – in Leeds, also in May 2018 – involved a couple luring their daughter to Bangladesh for a forced marriage. These were the first convictions of their kind in England. In 2015, a man was jailed for forced marriage (among other offences) after a Welsh court found he had raped and blackmailed a woman into marrying him.

These cases are remarkable, not least for the courage demonstrated by the young survivors in speaking out. But to what extent do these judgements represent justice in the eyes of those who have survived forced marriage – and what hurdles must they overcome to obtain it?


A LEADING campaigner against forced marriage and an advisor to the Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) has said the latest “shocking” figures on the issue are the “tip of the iceberg”.

Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom Charity, also revealed that 20 per cent of victims referred to the organisation are men and young boys.

Her comments were in response to statistics published in The Guardian on Monday (28), which revealed more than 3,500 forced marriage reports have made been to police in the past three years.

The report also added that charity Karma Nirvana had received almost 9,000 calls in 2017, including more than 200 from children under 15, related to forced marriage.

Prem told Eastern Eye that there are still far more cases yet to be exposed. “It’s a huge problem in the UK – it is increasing and not getting better. We know there are a lot more people going through this, but are too afraid to report it,” she said.

Yasmin Khan, the CEO and founder of Halo Project, a support network for forced marriage and honour-based violence victims, told Eastern Eye there is still a lack of awareness and understanding of what agencies should do to protect vulnerable adults and children.

“The important issue must be to protect and support those at risk, ensuring the first point of disclosure and reporting is dealt with correctly,” she said. “It is of paramount importance we help and support women, not just for forced marriage but for all the added abuse which comes with this violation of human rights.”

When contacted by Eastern Eye, a spokesperson from the Home Office said since the
introduction of the FMU in 2008, over 1,500 Forced Marriage Protection Orders prevented
people from being forced into a marriage and to assist in repatriating victims.

When will councils start saving girls from forced marriage ‘holidays’?

Teenagers can’t be expected to implicate their parents. Child protection services must be braver and intervene

The 3,500 reports of forced marriage over a three-year period, revealed by the Guardian this week, translates to 22 unwilling brides (sometimes bridegrooms) every single week. That sounds bad enough, but what’s even less palatable is that every such “marriage” means someone is being raped. Typically, repeatedly raped. And it’s the people who are loved and trusted most – mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles and siblings – who are facilitating those rapes. When it’s a minor who is married off against their will, the plain truth is that these relatives are planning, assisting and encouraging child rape.

Extraordinary numbers of young women – and sometimes young men – are living in fear of this crime: last year alone the charity Karma Nirvana, which campaigns against “honour”-based violence, took nearly 9,000 calls on its Forced Marriage helpline. Last year, almost 200 of those calls were made either by terrified children aged 15 or under or on their behalf. Their fears are not inflated: it turns out that the majority of applications for forced marriage protection orders are for children aged 17 or under.

According to charities that support victims of forced marriage, “honour”-based crimes are most prevalent in diaspora communities from South Asia, the Middle East and north and east Africa practising Muslim, Sikh and Hindu religions, as well as Orthodox Jewish and occasionally Traveller communities.

Uncomfortable though it may feel, teachers, police, medical professionals and child protection workers can no longer dance delicately around this, fearful of potential damage to community relations. It’s hard to imagine that anyone might facilitate the repeated rape of their own child, but the numbers tell a different story. And in the past two weeks, a mother in Birmingham and a couple in Leeds have been found guilty of tricking their teenage daughters oversees – to Pakistan in the first case and Bangladesh in the second – to marry against their will. When it’s a minor, the state has enhanced statutory duties under the Forced Marriage Act of 2007 to protect these children – so who was looking after them?