UNITED KINGDOM: Children as young as two 'at risk of forced marriage'

Summary: UK's Forced Marriage Unit figures reveal children of a very young age were potential victims of being forced into marriage.

[5 March 2013] - 

It has emerged that a two-year-old child was identified as a potential victim of forced marriage by the UK's Forced Marriage Unit.

The child was the youngest among at least 250 children helped by the unit in 2012, according to figures reported by the BBC.

Authorities can intervene when they believe there is a risk that children under 18 may become victims of forced marriage.

The unit, a joint initiative between the Foreign Office and the Home Office, gave advice or support in 1,485 cases last year - though it is feared many other forced marriages go unreported.

Of the children in these cases, 82% were female and 18% male, figures showed.

Unlike arranged marriages in which those taking part give their consent, forced marriages may involve kidnapping as well as physical and mental abuse.

Civil courts have the power to prevent weddings taking place by issuing Forced Marriage Protection orders.

The figures from the Forced Marriage Unit showed there were 114 cases involving people with disabilities and 22 involving victims who described themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The unit works in the UK to help those who are or risk becoming victims as well as social, education and health professionals and outside the country with embassy staff to rescue those who may have been held captive and forced into getting married.

David Cameron has insisted forced marriage must be stamped out and has pledged legislation to make it a criminal offence in England and Wales.

It emerged last year that a five-year-old girl had been forced into a marriage and in 2011 the Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 400 children. An 87-year-old woman was also a suspected victim.

Mr Cameron has condemned the practice as like “slavery” but it is not currently illegal in Britain to make someone to get married against their will.

Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom Charity, which supports people in forced marriages, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that she expected the figures would have been higher and that it was likely many people were too scared to come forward.

She called for more to be done to tackle the issue, saying: "If the majority of cases of forced marriage were white middle-class children, it would already have been a criminal offence."

















pdf: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9909233/Child-aged-two-was-at-r...


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