Forced marriage ‘has no place in Yorkshire’

Foreign Office Minister Grant Shapps. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Foreign Office Minister Grant Shapps. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

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ONE in ten reports of a suspected forced marriage in the UK come from concerned communities in Yorkshire and the Humber, new statistics show.

As a critical time approaches for women and men being taken abroad against their will during October half term, the Government is today launching a new video to warn those against the ‘brutal’ practice.

Around 120 women and men living across Yorkshire and the Humber received help and support from the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit last year in what were potential cases of someone being married against their will.

Pakistan, India and Bangladesh were the most common countries involved in reports to the FMU, however nearly a quarter of cases were from people concerned about a marriage to someone within the UK.

Today the Foreign Office has launched a hard-hitting video ‘Right to Choose’ showing forced marriage’s devestating impact on the victim and their family, and the criminal consequences of anyone’s involvement in the process.

Foreign Office Minister Grant Shapps hopes the video will engage communities and send out the message that forced marriage is a crime.

He said: “Forced marriage has no place in Yorkshire or anywhere in the UK.”

“This film demonstrates the full horror of its impact, and our determination to stamp out this brutal practice once and for all - defending victims through full use of the law where necessary.”

Nationally there were 1,267 referalls to the FMU where both women and men were in danger of being taken abroad to be married in 2014, in over 88 different countries. A fifth of the cases involved men.

There were 135 cases involving victims with disabilities and eight involving victims who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Outside London, Yorkshire is the third most common region for referalls to the FMU with 8.9% of the total number of cases. London is the epi-centre of forced marriage referalls with 23% of cases coming from the capital, 11.9% came from the West Midlands and 10.8% from the South East.

The region was unknown in 20% of cases.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said legislation alone is not enough to stamp out the practice.

She said: “We also need to work in other ways to prevent these dreadful cases from occurring and offer support to those who fear they may be forced into a life they do not want. I welcome this new video which will help raise awareness, send a strong message to perpetrators that forced marriage is a crime, and signpost the most vulnerable to support.”

The film is told from the perspective of a victim’s older brother, who is complicit in arranging her forced marriage but unaware of its true impact until it is too late.

Its release follows the launch of a new online training tool designed to help professionals recognise the warning signs of forced marriage and take the right action – at the right time - to help protect vulnerable children, young people, or adults at risk.

The FMU operates a public helpline (+44 (0) 20 7008 0151) giving advice and support to victims of forced marriage and professionals working with anyone who may be at risk.

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