In 2011, the Forced Marriage Unit helped deal with approximately 1500 cases of which 78% were female, 22% male and 29% involved minors. Research has revealed that around 2800 incidences of ‘honour’ based violence were reported to the police in 2010 and it is estimated that there are 10 to 12 ‘honour’ killings a year. There is often a relationship between forced marriages (FM) and ‘honour’ based violence (HBV), though HBV can occur where there is no evidence of forced marriage, and FM can be motivated by reasons other than honour.
Both forced marriages and ‘honour’ based incidences happen across different communities and are not unique to the South Asian community as is widely assumed. Over the years the profile of forced marriage has risen and more is now being done to tackle it than ever before. Victims are increasingly recognising the warning signs and now have the confidence to come forward and seek help. This is illustrated by the rising number of applications for Forced Marriage Protection Orders, demand for which has been much higher than anticipated – doubts persist however over perceived inadequacies in the monitoring of compliance with an order after it was made.
In May 2011, the Home Affairs Select Committee published its Eighth Report of Session 2010-2012 on Forced Marriage, outlining the lack of progress in tackling forced marriage issues and making recommendations for action. In October 2011, the Prime Minister responded by announcing the Government’s intention to criminalise the breach of a FMPO, and also consult on making forced marriage a criminal offence.
The increasing numbers of reported cases of forced marriage and ‘honour’ based violence emphasise the urgent need for comprehensive action. Describing forced marriage as ‘the most grotesque example of a relationship that isn’t genuine’, the Government has outlined its intentions to tackle these issues and provide better support to victims not allowing perceived cultural sensitivities to hinder progress.
This timely symposium provides an invaluable opportunity to gain an understanding of the current legal framework and how a multi-agency approach can be strengthened, especially at the local level. The symposium will explore issues around prevention, the importance of specialist services and the greater role of education providers in ensuring better awareness and early intervention.
- Understand the legal framework and the impact the proposed changes will have if implemented
- Explore how to overcome sensitive cultural barriers and improve protection, support and services available
- Discuss how to better engage with schools and raise public awareness of FM and HBV
- Examine new strategies which encourage communities to challenge FM and HBV and develop a stronger response at a local level
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