Archive for the ‘Forced Marriage’ Category

I was a victim of forced marriage


I always knew I would be forced to marry somebody I barely knew and didn’t love. In my family, being a woman was all about being somebody else’s property – first you belong to your parents, then your husband. I was an object, expected to wait on men and produce children.

It is an experience shared by the 3,500 people who have reported forced marriage to the police within the past three years – and the thousands more suffering in silence.

There is a difference between forced and arranged marriages. The latter is a marriage set up by family members of two people over the age of 18, who can both choose whether or not to participate. This becomes a forced marriage if either partner is unwilling or unable to give permission.

In the UK, forced marriage is illegal and has been since 2014. This includes if people are taking someone abroad or bringing them into this country for this reason. Yet, in England, it’s believed that only one in 30 suspected forced marriages leads to a prosecution, and it’s clear many cases are still flying under the radar.

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”.

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.

Forced marriage: It is getting worse say campaigners

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?

Saira Khan: Forced marriage is often a form of child abuse – and it needs to end

For far too long the authorities in this country have backed off from talking about forced marriage – partly due to ignorance of what is involved, but mainly because they are scared of being called racist, writes Saira Khan

As I watched those loving glances pass between Harry and Meghan last week, I couldn’t help but think of my own wedding.

It was everything it should have been – one of the happiest days of my life.

But as I looked into my groom’s eyes and said my vows, I knew I was doubly lucky – so many girls of my cultural background are not allowed to marry for love.

So I was gratified to see the four- and-a-half-year jail sentence passed this week in Birmingham on a woman for taking her 13-year-old daughter to Pakistan and forcing her to sign a marriage contract with a 29-year-old man who then raped his terrified young “bride” and made her pregnant.

For far too long the authorities in this country have backed off from talking about forced marriage – partly due to ignorance of what is involved, but mainly because they are scared of being called racist.

As a British child in a family of Pakistani origin, I grew up watching young girls – and sometimes boys – being taken to Pakistan, India or even to different parts of the UK and made to marry partners their parents had chosen for the benefit of family and community honour.

In many ways, it’s the story of Rochdale and Telford all over again – police, social workers and politicians turning a blind eye to flagrant law-breaking in the name of not offending religious and cultural sensitivities.

Just as they wrote off those girls who were groomed and abused by mainly Asian gangs, they also ignored the plight of thousands of Asian teenagers married off to strangers and made to abandon their education for early motherhood and forced domesticity.

Thousands enslaved in forced marriages across UK, investigation finds

Experts say crime is woefully under-reported, as Guardian research shows large scale of domestic and sexual servitude.

More than 3,500 reports of forced marriage were made to police over a three-year period, a Guardian investigation has found, as charities warned that there were thousands more victims living in conditions of modern slavery in homes across the UK.

Data shared exclusively with the Guardian revealed 3,546 reports between 2014 and 2016. But experts warn that the figures, collected by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation under the Freedom of Information Act, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Over the same three-year period, one national helpline run by another NGO received 22,030 calls from individuals or agencies concerned about a forced marriage. In 2017, the NGO Karma Nirvana received a further 8,870 calls, including more than 200 from or about children under 15, and gave advice regarding eight new clients under 10.

The new figures reveal the shocking extent of forced marriage in Britain – a crime that experts say should be investigated and prosecuted as a form of modern slavery.

They point to the fact that a guilty verdict last week against a mother who trafficked her daughter to be married in Pakistan was the first of its kind in the country despite the large number of reported offences.

Legal experts and campaigners say modern slavery legislation could lead to an increase in convictions for a crime that is notoriously hard to prosecute because victims are reluctant to testify against family members.

Last week’s landmark conviction resulted in a mother from Birmingham being jailed for four-and-a-half years for duping her 17-year-old daughter into travelling abroad and forcing her into marriage.

The woman had threatened to rip up her daughter’s passport if she did not marry the 34-year-old Pakistani national who had got her pregnant when she was just 13.

Birmingham woman guilty of duping daughter into forced marriage

Jury at Birmingham crown court convicts woman in first successful prosecution of its kind in the UK

A woman from Birmingham has been found guilty of deceiving her teenage daughter into travelling to Pakistan and forcing her to marry a man nearly twice her age in the first successful prosecution of its kind.

The jury at Birmingham crown court heard that the teenager, who became pregnant by the man when she was just 13, had sobbed as the marriage took place.

The court was told that the defendant, a 45-year-old mother of four – who cannot be named for legal reasons – duped her daughter, then 17, into travelling to Pakistan by claiming it was a family holiday and groomed her by bribing her with the promise of a mobile phone.

While abroad, on the teenager’s 18th birthday, she revealed her plan to have her married to one of her relatives and threatened to tear up her passport if she did not comply with her wishes.

More than 1,000 cases of forced marriage in UK last year, report says

Official unit says issue is hidden crime and figures may not reflect full scale of abuse

Nearly 1,200 possible forced marriage cases were flagged up to a specialist service last year, figures show.

Of the 1,196 reports handled by the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), more than a quarter involved victims below the age of 18, while one in five related to male victims.

The total number of cases registered in 2017 was down by 19% on the previous year, but officials said the fall did not represent a decrease in prevalence of forced marriage in the UK.

Forcing someone to marry against their will is a criminal offence that carries a maximum sentence of seven years. A forced marriage is defined as one in which one or both spouses do not consent to the union, and violence, threats or any other form of coercion are involved.

Sharia law review recommends civil marriage requirement for Muslim couples

Muslim couples should be legally required to have a civil marriage in addition to an Islamic ceremony, a government-ordered review of Sharia law has concluded.

The measure would mean more women had protection under family law and would face “less discriminatory practices”, according to the independent assessment.

It also called for regulation of Sharia councils, which deal with aspects of Islamic law, but the proposal was immediately dismissed by the Government.

As home secretary, Theresa May launched the review to explore whether Sharia law was being misused or applied in a way that was incompatible with domestic law in England and Wales.

A report detailing the findings published on Thursday said the vast majority of people using Sharia councils were women seeking an Islamic divorce.

Examples of “bad practice” included inappropriate questioning on personal relationship matters and women being invited to make concessions to their husbands in order to secure a divorce.

In one instance a forced marriage victim was asked to attend a council at the same time as her family, according to the report.

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