New law saves 39 children from forced marriage
CHILDREN as young as nine have been rescued from forced marriages in the UK under new special protection orders.
The children were among 86 females granted the civil safeguards in the 12 months since the forced marriage protection orders were introduced. Nearly half of the applicants, 39, were children.
Although the number seems low, it is twice as many as the government had expected to seek help in the first year.
Hundreds of young women in Britain are forced into marriage each year, according to the report published by the UK Ministry of Justice in the first year of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act of 2007.
The report says that the girls and women suffer physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional pressure. "A woman who is forced into marriage is likely to be raped and may be raped repeatedly until she becomes pregnant," it says.
The children subjected to the orders have become child protection cases, the ministry said.
In 2008 the British government's Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 420 cases. "Some victims are taken overseas to marry while others may be married in the UK," the report says.
The orders allow police and councils to confiscate the passports of potential victims. Relatives can be forced to tell the authorities where women and children have been taken if they are no longer in Britain.
But the report notes that some authorities are reluctant to publicise the new orders because of "a PC agenda whereby there was reluctance to risk causing offence". Police also accused social services of being slow to act. The report says: "There were references to calls not always being returned, or cases being regarded as naughty children."
The report also notes that women can be putting themselves at serious risk when applying for a protection order. (© The Times, London)