The Home Office released figures for 2016 from their Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) yesterday, and it shows unsurprisingly that the young are very vulnerable, with a staggering 26% of the victims they supported being below the age of 18. Of the 1,145 cases they dealt with, 80% of those involved female victims.
The FMU is a joint cooperative between the Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Unit, originally set up in 2005. It uses consular connections to gather information from other countries and aids victims of forced marriage in Britain. Whilst many may believe forced marriage is a religious action, it is important to note that freely given consent is a prerequisite for marriage in Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh marriages. Forced marriage is not unique to any one country or culture and the FMU has handled cases relating to 90 countries as of 2016. After a slow but steady decline in numbers of cases from 2010 to 2015, 2016 shows an increase in cases to over 1,400.
In 2016, the FMU targeted 69 ‘focus’ countries and the six highest were:
- Pakistan – 612 cases (43%).
- Bangladesh – 121 cases (8%).
- India – 79 cases (6%).
- Somalia – 47 cases (3%).
- Afghanistan – 39 cases (3%).
- Saudi Arabia – 16 cases (1%)
Freedom Charity is committed to helping those in forced marriages or potential forced marriages. Please donate as much as you can spare and keep us helping those who need rescuing. Aneeta’s book But It’s Not Fair is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle form, and is exceptionally well reviewed. All profits go straight to Freedom Charity to help people finding themselves in this situation.
Rob Cole, Mac Doctor Norwich