Teachers, doctors and airport staff have been warned to watch out for young people being taken abroad to undergo forced marriages over the school holiday period.
The Home Office said the summer marks a peak in reports of such cases, with youngsters being taken on “holiday” by their parents, unaware of the real purpose of the trip. Between June and August last year, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) received more than 400 reports. The unit is handing out advice cards to provide help and information to potential victims, pointing them to confidential advice. The cards say: “You gave a right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.” A Home Office spokeswoman said the cards would be available in airports and other locations but would not be proactively handed to young people based on their ethnicity.
Aneeta Prem, the founder of campaign group Freedom Charity, said: “It’s vital that young people travelling abroad for a family wedding this summer realise it could be their own wedding they’ll be going to – and know who they should contact for help should they find themselves in danger.”