MP head the committee to make a statutory requirement in schools
to protect women from Forced marriages
London, June 13, 2008
NRI MP Mr. Keith Vaz is heading the all-party home affairs selected
committee to make a statutory requirement in British schools and
become a compulsory part of the sex and relationships curriculum
on “honour killing” and “forced marriages”
It is good to see the UK government starting to address this problem.
However, the assets devoted to eradicating this new form of slavery
are far less than inadequate
MP Keith Vaz criticised a shortage of refuge spaces and
emergency accommodation for victims. He said:
- He suggested there should be a wide-ranging public education
campaign, along the lines of the successful Think! road safety
- We educate our young people about the dangers of drugs or road
safety but not, it seems, about domestic and honour-based violence
and forced marriage which, sadly, will affect a quarter of all
women in their lifetime and many men, too.
- A victim protection programme, similar to witness protection,
should be developed to help women fleeing honour-based violence
- There had been a lot of work by the Government to tackle the
- 'We are still failing victims in different ways - through a
shortage of refuge space for those fleeing violent homes, through
the ignorance or disbelief of professionals, or by allowing the
continued abuse of some of those forced into marriage by granting
visas to their spouses.
Dr Khanum said: "There is a wall of silence around forced
marriages. We are talking about girls being coerced into marriage,
often not knowing beforehand who their husband will be, and then
having little or no rights when they are married.
The report says:
- Prevention and early intervention are vital in tackling domestic
and so-called honour-based violence and forced marriage.
- ''We strongly recommend that the Department for Children, Schools
and Families take steps to ensure that all schools are promoting
materials on forced marriage, while allowing them to retain discretion
on the details
The number of women forced into marriage per year in the UK could
be as high as 4,000, a study has claimed. In Leicestershire, police
receive about 12,000 reports of violence in the home every year,
although experts believe much more abuse remains unreported.Leicestershire
police have helped 30 women to try to escape forced marriages in
the past 10 years.
On March 12, 2008, a report to the House of Commons
strongly indicated that this horrific practice is far more wide
spreed than the government previously believed. The Yorkshire Post
reported that the number of forced marriages among Britain's Asian
community could be as high as 3,000 per year:
Heather Harvey of Amnesty International said: ''Mr Vaz is correct
in his conclusion that the Government is failing to protect women
in a variety of ways, including a shortage of refuge space."