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.