One in 10 forced marriages are 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 dangerous window of opportunity approaches for women and men to be taken abroad against their will during half term, the Government is today launching a video with the message that the ‘brutal’ practice will not be tolerated in the region.

Around 120 women and men living across Yorkshire and the Humber received help and support from the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) 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 in the UK.

Today the Foreign Office has launched a hard-hitting video showing forced marriage’s devastating 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 coercing someone to marry is a crime. He said: “Forced marriage has no place in Yorkshire or anywhere in the UK.” Mr Shapps said: “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 referrals to the Forced Marriage Unit where both women and men were in danger of being taken abroad to be married in 2014, in 88 different countries. A fifth of the cases involved men. There were 135 cases involving victims with disabilities.

Outside London, Yorkshire is the third most common region for referrals to the FMU with 8.9 per cent of the total number of cases. London is the centre of referrals with 23 per cent of cases coming from the capital, 11.9 per cent came from the West Midlands and 10.8 per cent from the South East.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, Karen Bradley, said the FMU carried out excellent work, but steps beyond legislation were needed.

She said: “We know that legislation alone is not enough. 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.”