Forced marriages warning has worrying echoes of Yorkshire’s grooming scandals: The Yorkshire Post says

One of the most painful conclusions from the multiple child sexual exploitation scandals involving grooming gangs that have unfolded in Yorkshire in recent decades is that many of those in authority were willing to look the other way too often for fear of being perceived as racist.

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is a survivor of forced marriage and the founder of charity Karma Nirvana which supports other victims, and has recently been appointed to the North Yorkshire Domestic Abuse scrutiny panel.  Picture Tony Johnson
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is a survivor of forced marriage and the founder of charity Karma Nirvana which supports other victims, and has recently been appointed to the North Yorkshire Domestic Abuse scrutiny panel. Picture Tony Johnson

That situation led to police forces and politicians letting down victims and causing further division between communities than would have been the case if criminals had been pursued properly.

In that light, it is deeply concerning to hear Jasvinder Sanghera, the respected founder of Leeds-based charity Karma Nirvana, warn a similar situation is occurring around the issue of girls as young as 13 and 14 being forced into marriages with little or nothing being done to stop the practice.

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She tells The Yorkshire Post today: “There is the issue in this country whereby some professionals are still dealing with this as being ‘cultural’, and they look the other way. There is the fear of being called racist.”

Changing such attitudes – and treating everyone equally under the law – is vital and as such, it is heartening to hear Ms Sanghera, who herself is a survivor of forced marriage, has been appointed to North Yorkshire’s Domestic Abuse Independent Scrutiny Panel, where hopefully her voice can help with shifting some of the misguided perceptions around the issue.

Her view is entirely simple and also entirely correct – underage children being made to marry is not a cultural matter, it is a child protection issue and should be treated as such by the authorities.

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