Wedding bells ring across the country in August, with couples keen to have their special day in the sunshine. But August is also the peak time for young teens in the UK to be forced into marriage, during the long summer school break, the government has warned. The Home Office campaign launch this weekend, after schools have broken up for the summer, has been criticised for being “too late” by Labour, who said the issue should have been raised in term time.
Summer marks a peak in reports of forced marriage cases, when youngsters can be taken on “holiday”, unaware of the real purpose of the trip. Between June and August last year, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint operation by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, received more than 400 reports. Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne said: “The rise in forced marriage reports over the school holidays is shocking. “Teenagers expecting their GCSE or A-level results should be embarking on a bright future, not condemned to a marriage with someone they have never met and do not want to marry. “This is a serious abuse of human rights and that is why we are legislating to make it illegal. “My message to young people who feel they are at risk is, please come forward – you do not have to suffer in silence, there is help available and it can be stopped.”