CAMPAIGNERS ARGUE: ‘FORCED MARRIAGE IS A CRIME, NOT CULTURE’

COMMUNITIES should help the police by reporting suspicions related to forced marriage, a
campaigner has urged, as she revealed she felt UK politicians were failing victims.

Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of Karma Nirvana which supports victim of honour-based
abuse, also warned more children would suffer because of the government’s failures.

Sanghera, who was disowned by her family after she refused to participate in a forced marriage, told Eastern Eye on Tuesday (9) that communities could help agencies, especially the police, by reporting any suspicions they had about forced marriages.

“It is very difficult to police, safeguard and investigate cases without the support of those aware of victims,” she said. “I understand it takes immense courage to report abuses as a third party, but you can anonymously.”

Last week, the home secretary Sajid Javid announced new measures to combat forced marriage.

They include the refusal of spousal entry visas to the UK where there are signs that a marriage has been forced and helping public service professionals identify and support victims. Javid made the announcement after months of criticism against the Home Office, which has been accused of accepting visa applications from men who had forcibly married teenagers abroad.

In response to this, Prem praised the government’s latest actions to tackle the problem.

She is hopeful the latest proposals will make a difference to victims.

“These are small steps, but it is a positive move forward,” she said.

Noreen Riaz, a project coordinator from forced marriage charity Halo Project, told Eastern Eye she shared similar sentiments as Prem. She believes change is happening, but it is a slow process.

“The government has made the necessary legislative changes to tackle forced marriages in the UK,” Riaz said.

“However, I agree more needs to be done to ensure change in practice and in the culture that it is prevalent in.

“Victims of forced marriage are at greater risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. We need to ensure professionals and agencies are aware of these risks and have a better understanding and training in regard to the barriers faced by victims of forced marriages,”
Riaz said.

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