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Forced Marriage Victim Urges Action.

Shazia Qayum, a victim of a forced marriage, says she has helped a 10-year-old Bangledeshi girl avoid an arranged marriage.

Figures showing hundreds of pupils from ethnic minorities are being removed from school have sparked concerns many are being forced into marriages abroad.
Compiled for a report for a committee of MPs, they highlight how many children have disappeared from school registers in England.

The MPs fear some have been forced into marriages against their will.

A separate report suggests the number of illegal forced marriages each year runs into several thousand.

Dig deeper

The home affairs select committee has demanded answers with some suspecting that young girls and occasionally even boys are being taken out of education and forced to marry against their will - often because they are deemed to have become too Westernised.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to inform social services if there is no good reason for long-term school absence.

Local councils deny the missing youngsters are likely to have been forced into marriages.

My father told me that I wouldn't be coming back and that I couldn't do anything about it.

But government officials have been told to "dig deeper" into the data with MPs suspecting the problem is much more widespread than previously thought.

One teenage Pakistani girl told the BBC how she was pulled out of school when she was just 13, taken to Pakistan and forced to marry a man who assaulted, abused and raped her.

She prayed someone back in England would report her disappearance and come looking for her but nothing happened.

"I think they let me down", she says. "I did still secretly think when I was in Pakistan, the school might search for me. Nobody looked for me. It was horrific."

Having come back to the UK to have a baby, she is now in hiding after her husband followed her from Pakistan.

The government's forced marriage unit investigates about 300 cases a year, sometimes conducting clandestine rescue operations.

However, a separate Home Office-funded study suggests that sort of number may be happening every year in the town of Luton alone.

Ten times higher?

The report documents hundreds of calls to support groups from people worried about forced marriage and concludes that nationally the figure is likely to be 10 times that.

BBC Home Editor Mark Easton said enforced marriages used to be prevalent in many cultures - in Britain they were often described as "shot-gun weddings".

But now they tend to persist in traditional patriarchal societies, most commonly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

Forced marriages are not the same as arranged marriages in which both parties consent.

However, the families involved often do it because they believe they are protecting the young person - preventing them being corrupted by Western values.

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Added: Mar-11-2008 
By: barnesy
In:
News, Other
Tags: Forced, Marriage, Victim, Speaks
Location: Derby, Derby, United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
Views: 10797 | Comments: 1 | Votes: 2 | Favorites: 2 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 1 | Times used in channels: 1
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