British Somali teenagers are being taken back to their parents’ homeland under the pretence of a holiday and then kept in detention centres before being forced into marriages.
Under the practice of dhaqan celis, loosely translated as “the rehabilitation community”, Somali children and teenagers are routinely taken to the country, where they are often sent to “rehabilitation” centres.
The centres promote themselves as “re-education” schools to align young people with Somali cultural values and their Somali roots. The Home Office, however, says they tend not to deliver an academic curriculum and are in fact detention centres where young people are routinely subjected to physical, sexual and mental abuse. In some cases, those held against their will are told the only way out is to get married.
David Myers, joint head of the Home Office’s forced marriage unit (FMU) in the UK, said: “What we are seeing in these communities is that young people who have antisocial behaviour issues, are getting involved in gangs and drugs, and are being sent back to Somalia by their parents for re-education and rehabilitation.