The UK government today issued a warning to teachers, doctors and airport staff to be alert to forced marriages over the school holidays. The 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 over 400 reports.
This year the Unit is handing out “Marriage: it’s your choice” cards, to provide help and information to potential victims, signposting them to confidential advice. The cards also remind young people to speak to police or airline staff if they find themselves at an airport with nowhere to turn. 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.”