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Posts Tagged ‘marry’

Schools need to do more over forced marriage dangers

Schools must do more to warn children about the dangers of forced marriage, the Lords was told today.

Labour spokeswoman Baroness Thornton said there was evidence that schools were doing “very little to ensure pupils are informed about forced marriage and offer them necessary support if they need it”.

She added: “In fact there is some evidence that some schools are putting students at risk by contacting family members when children had consulted teachers in confidence.” Lady Thornton was speaking during committee stage debate on the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, which makes forcing someone into a marriage a criminal offence.

The Opposition was calling for front line staff to be given better guidance on how to deal with the problem. Lady Thornton said the Department for Education did not treat forced marriage as a “child protection issue” in many schools and criminalisation was not enough to tackle forced marriage on its own.

Schools, colleges, police, doctors, social services and airport staff must be aware of what to look for and the appropriate action that needed to be taken. Action taken was not “uniform or adequate” at present, she said.

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Forced marriage could be made a crime in Scotland

MSPs are seeking views on whether forced marriage should be a criminal offence.

Holyrood’s Justice Committee wants to know if people believe criminalisation would be an improvement or if present safeguards are sufficient.

The call for evidence comes after an attempt by Westminster to legislate for Scotland on the criminalisation for forced marriage.

The UK Bill would make it a criminal offence for any person to use violence, threats or any other form of coercion to force someone to marry without their free and full consent.

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Protests as ‘child marriage’ imam back at Birmingham mosque

An imam caught agreeing to marry off a 14-year-old girl has been welcomed back to his mosque job, despite protests from worshippers.

Sajid Zafar Hussain has spent the past month suspended from his post at the Jamatia Islamic Centre on Woodlands Road, Sparkhill. He was caught on film agreeing to arrange the wedding ceremony by undercover TV reporters posing as the mother and brother of the schoolgirl.

Mr Hussain was immediately suspended by the mosque but the Mail has discovered he was allowed to return to work last Monday. Yet the decision has divided worshippers, with one mosque member claiming the ‘unjustifiable’ return had caused bad feeling. They said: “When the imam entered the mosque to lead prayers a number of members and trustees protested and asked if he would do the decent thing and resign to avoid causing division within the community. The imam refused to comment.

“A number of his supporters then objected and began to push members around, there was a disorder which was defused by the trustees and the members walking away from the situation. “The Management Committee were asked to explain how they concluded the imam’s actions did not amount to gross misconduct. They too refused to comment.”

The ITV Exposure programme visited 56 mosques across the country and asked clerics to perform an Islamic marriage ceremony, known as a nikah. Mr Hussain and imams at 17 other mosques agreed. The Mail visited the Jamatia Islamic Centre where its President Noor Hussain and joint treasurer Mohammed Fidah confirmed the imam had been allowed to return following an investigation by an ‘independent committee’. The President claimed the cleric had agreed in principle to marry off the schoolgirl as a reaction to the ‘emotional state’ of the female reporter posing as her mother, who he described as a ‘desperate woman’.

Asked if they thought Mr Hussain’s offer to marry off the schoolgirl was wrong, Mr Noor Hussain stressed no criminal offence had been committed as no marriage had actually been conducted.

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‘I was forced into marrying my relative … and there was nowhere to go, no way out’

A Scots woman forced into marrying a relative in Pakistan against her will while still a teenager has spoken for the first time of the abuse she has suffered.

Sara, who still fears for her life if her true identity or whereabouts are revealed, was beaten, threatened and coerced until she agreed to leave university and travel to Pakistan with her parents. She made her decision to speak out as support agencies revealed a surge in the reported numbers of women fleeing forced marriage.

According to a new report, women’s support agencies in Scotland have seen a surge in the numbers of cases reported since new legislation to deal with forced marriage was introduced in 2011 by the Scottish Parliament. Since the new law was introduced some support agencies have seen their referrals double. Under the legislation courts in Scotland can issue protection orders specifically tailored to a victim’s needs, for example by ensuring they are taken to a place of safety or by helping those in danger of being taken abroad for marriage. Breaching such an order is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine, a two-year prison sentence or both. Mridul Wadhwa, information and education officer at Shakti Women’s Aid, said: “The numbers of reports of forced marriage in Scotland have gone up significantly.

“The referrals from people who suspect forced marriage has also increased, but we still need more agencies – particularly schools and universities – to pick up on the warning signs and notify the authorities earlier.” Despite the constant threat of violence hanging over her, Sara has taken the decision to speak out because she wants other young people to know it is possible to escape such situations.

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‘Arab wedding’ brings to focus vulnerability of poor women

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The latest incident of forced marriage of a minor Muslim girl to an Arab national has once again brought to focus vulnerability of women from poorer sections who continue to be victims of sexual exploitation. The infamous “Arabbi kalyanam” ( Arab wedding), a social malady prevalent in parts of Kerala, has stirred a raging debate over the evil practice, which has devastated the lives of young girls in the wake of recent episode in which a 17-year-old girl from Kozhikode, living in orphanage, was forced into marriage with an Arab national. The Ras al-Khaiamh (UAE) resident Jasim Mohammed Abdul Kareem, after spending two weeks with the girl, returned home and pronounced “talaq” over phone.

Despite universal education and commendable social sector indices, women from underprivileged sections in Kerala still appear to be victims of circumstances beyond their control. Decades-long awareness campaigns and grass root actions, financially backward minor girls not only from the Muslim community but also from vulnerable sections like tribals are still victimised in the name of “cross-border weddings”, in which they are married off to those coming from abroad or other states without their consent.

The menace, known under different names like “Arabi kalyanam”, “Mysore kalyanam” or “Male kalyanam” in local parlance, based the place from where the groom comes, had been widely prevalent in places like Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur, Kasaragod and even in state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Poverty-stricken parents, who could not meet the hefty dowry demanded by local youths, were often used to be trapped by “visiting grooms” with the support of local marriage brokers and, in many cases, community elders.

Initially, the brides are heaped with costly gifts like gorgeous apparels and gold ornaments and cash to lure their parents to force their daughters into marriage. After the wedding ceremony, they are taken to honeymoon trips for a few days and even for weeks, after which the groom would leave for their home abandoning the teenage brides to life-long misery and tears.

The widely condemned social evil, believed to have been ended after the grass root level intervention of progressive community leaders and NGOs, surfaced again with the recent case in Kozhikode.

Ironically in this case, the groom himself is the son of a UAE national who married a local woman, who later got divorced and got wedded to a Keralite with whom she is living. This came to light and sparked public outrage, after the victim and her mother came out against the orphanage where she was living alleging its authorities took the initiative for the marriage. Refuting the charge, the orphanage management held that the wedding was performed with the consent of the girl and her family, and the marriage of 17-year-old Muslim girls was legally permissible as per a circular issued by the social welfare department in the state, though it had been put on hold later following wide protests.

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Judge calls for new laws to help young forced into marriage

Ireland:  NEW laws may be needed to help young people placed in arranged or forced marriages, a Supreme Court judge has said.

The system for seeking exemptions from the legal age limit for marriage may also need to be reviewed as it raises child welfare questions, according to Mr Justice John MacMenamin of the Supreme Court. Judge MacMenamin raised the possibilities of new laws as it emerged that a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a 29-year-old man – both of whom are from the Islamic faith – was annulled by court order. Serious concerns remain for the welfare of the Pakistani-born girl, who was later taken to Egypt by her mother despite a court order restraining her removal from Ireland.

The marriage took place in an Islamic centre in 2010 and was annulled in September 2011 due to lack of “full, free and informed consent” on behalf of the teen. The girl, known only as R, had a brief acquaintance with her intended husband before the marriage.


Judge John MacMenamin highlighted the case of a 16-year-old who was in an arranged marriage

Persons aged under 18 must get the permission of the Circuit Family Court or the High Court to get married. Before the ceremony, two applications were made to exempt the girl from the age restriction and from the requirement to give three months’ notice of intention to marry.

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Nada’s Escape From Forced Marriage Highlights Child Marriage Epidemic

Nada Al-Ahdal must be one of the bravest people alive today. This 11-year-old Yemeni girl managed to escape the fate that befalls so many girls of her age: a forced marriage.

Her story is harrowing. Nada, one of eight children, lived with her uncle in Saudi Arabia since she was three. According to Nada, her uncle, Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, was the only thing standing between her and life as a child bride.

Abdel Salam told NOW:

“When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it.’ I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her.”

According to NOW, the groom then ended the engagement. When he told Nada’s parents that he did not want to marry their daughter anymore, they were disappointed since they would no longer receive the bride price.

Despite her tender age, Nada is no stranger to arranged marriages. Her 18-year-old sister has been engaged several times, and her maternal aunt committed suicide by self-immolation after being forced to marry an abusive man. Even though Nada made her preferences very, very clear, her parents tried to marry her off again. That’s when Nada made this haunting video.

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Forced Marriages – do you know where you stand?

There are many instances where a marriage can be voidable (set aside) or ‘void’ where the marriage is treated as though it has never taken place. Examples include non-consummation of marriage, due to either inability or wilful refusal. There are other reasons relating to unawareness that the bride is already pregnant or that one party has a serious STD. More commonly, these days, it may be that one of the parties may not have the legal capacity to consent to the union or may be entering it under duress or have suffered undue influence.

The latter appears to relate to the recent case highlighted in the Daily Mail involving a sixteen year old girl who had the protection of a Court Order which banned the arrangement of her marriage. The Order was backed by a Power of Arrest. It is alleged that, in spite of the Court Order, the girl was forced to marry a man she had met only once under a threat from her father to kill her (which would apparently be explained as suicide) if she refused to comply. She is reported to have turned up at a local police station in her pyjamas on her wedding night in a distressed state.

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is raising awareness about forced marriages across the public sector to professionals and lay clients alike. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16(2)). FMU goes on to say that No marriage shall be legally entered into without the full and free consent of both parties and a woman’s right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage that is central to her life and dignity and equality as a human being (Recommendation 21 Comment Article 16 (1) (b) UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).

This unfortunate 16 year old lady is due to appear in Court where, presumably, the persons alleged to have threatened her and organised the marriage despite the Court orders and powers of arrest will have to account for their actions. Duress includes actions perpetrated against a victim for physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional reasons and such pressure tends to be consistent and wholly unacceptable. In 2008 over 1,600 cases in the UK were reported involving South Asian and other families. It is important to remember that many go unreported. This often starts when the victim is quite young when during school there are often prolonged absences that are not properly explained, requests for extended leave, with the victim showing anxiety as the school holidays and breaks come nearer. Often they are not allowed to join after-school activities or forge a friendship with other children or their families. This can result in self-harm, feelings of depression and isolation and can result in unreasonable restrictions at home. Incidents as being beaten by a parent for ‘looking at a boy’ can often result in confiscation of a mobile phone and being forced to go back to the originating country often to meet the prospective ‘husband’.


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16-year-old ‘forced to marry’ despite protection order

After her wedding reception, which was attended by between 550 and 1000 guests, the teenager went to a police station “in her pyjamas and in a distressed state”, a court heard.Her mother and aunt were subsequently arrested for allegedly breaching a forced marriage protection order which had been issued in November.They appeared at Luton County Court on Tuesday. The court heard that the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, first went to Bedfordshire Police for help in 2012.

James Weston, counsel for the force, said she told officers that her family had threatened to send her abroad to marry. She also claimed she was told that if she refused she would be “taken to Pakistan and shot, and everybody back home would be told it was suicide”. As a result, she was made the subject of a forced marriage protection order. The order, backed by the power of arrest, banned the child’s marriage without permission of the court. It also prevented her from travelling abroad and banned her mother from arranging a marriage, or enlisting the help of someone else to arrange it.

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