Displaying items by tag: forced marriage
A Christian charity has called on Boris Johnson to grant asylum to a 14-year-old Christian girl, Maira Shahbaz, who was abducted at gunpoint in April and forcibly married and converted to Islam by a married Muslim man. Aid to Church in Need, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, is urging concerned Christians to add their names to an online petition to the PM on Maira;s behalf. In August she fled the home of her alleged husband. The Lahore High Court ordered her to return to her abductor and ruled that she was legally married to him. Regardless of court decisions, her life will for ever be in danger from an honour killing by extremists considering her an apostate. See her video statement
On 2 November Karachi police recovered a 13-year-old Christian girl and arrested the Muslim accused of abducting and forcibly marrying and converting her. The action came after a rising tide of protests over the previous validation of the marriage. The girl, Arzoo Raja, was due to appear on 5 November at a court hearing which will hear evidence about Arzoo’s age (her parents have provided proof that she was born in 2007) and decide whether she was forcibly converted and if her marriage is legal.
The Foreign Office (FO) has been recouping the cost of repatriating young women who were forced into marriages overseas, prompting charities to criticise it for making women ‘pay for their protection’. Many of the 82 victims of forced marriage repatriated in 2016-17 had to pay for living costs incurred between making distress calls and returning home, as well as their airfare; others received loans which they had to repay. They had to give up their passports until they had repaid the debt, with a surcharge added after six months. But many could not find work because potential employers wanted to see their passport, which the FO held. Four young British women imprisoned and tortured at a ‘correctional’ religious school in Somalia ahead of expected forced marriages had to pay £740 to return home; they said the burden of having to repay the loans contributed to their becoming destitute.
The Co-operative Academy of Leeds has been working with human rights charity Karma Nirvana to end forced marriages and honour-based abuse. In school education lessons, students were given spoons which they could use if they feared they were being taken abroad to be married in the summer holidays. If they concealed them in their underwear, the spoons would trigger airport metal detectors, and the child would be taken to one side to be searched away from their parent or guardian. This would allow the youngster to tell airport staff that they were being forced into a marriage. Karma Nirvana’s helpline has taken nearly 70,000 calls in ten years. It has worked with the academy for five years, teaching pupils and staff how to be aware of this problem and how to get help if they are affected. See https://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/what-we-do/raising-awareness-education/
Last week a Birmingham mother was jailed for forcing her daughter to marry a relative almost twice her age. This week a Leeds couple were found guilty of luring their 19-year-old daughter to Bangladesh in 2016, in an attempt to force her to marry her first cousin and have a baby with him. She was rescued after she texted her location to her boyfriend, who then told West Yorkshire Police.
A Birmingham woman was jailed for four and a half years for duping her daughter into travelling to Pakistan and forcing her to marry a man sixteen years her senior. The judge told the mother, ‘You cruelly deceived her. She was frightened, alone, held against her will, being forced into a marriage she dreaded. You must have known her state of mind. Yet for your own purposes, you drove the marriage through.’ It is the first time a victim has given evidence against her family in a trial for this type of offence, and the first conviction for forced marriage in England. The NSPCC hope the sentence will show that young victims can come forward and be supported when they bravely report abuse suffered at the hands of their families. They reported 205 counselling sessions for children concerned about a forced marriage in 2016/2017, and Childline recorded 6,099 visits to its forced marriage online page during the same period.
Statistics from the Home and Foreign Offices show that forced marriages have jumped from 1,220 cases in 2015 to 1,428 in 2016. Most were under the age of 15 and 140 had learning disabilities. August is the ‘critical’ month. Parents take their teenage daughters abroad on holiday then trick them into forced marriages. The government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) says it has received 770 calls for help this year from victims. Since 2009 schools have been helped to identify signs of forced marriages. However the numbers are still rising which indicates that some schools, communities and councils are failing to act on suspicions or evidence of abuse. Pray for schools and communities to play a greater preventative role. The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit said that because of the nature of forced marriage a number of them are not reported so the true scale of the problem remains unclear. See also: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/child-bride-speaks-out-forced-13429971