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University responses to forced marriage & violence against women Marilyn Freeman, Renate Klein, Jacqueline Mburu London Metropolitan University, June 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "University responses to forced marriage & violence against women Marilyn Freeman, Renate Klein, Jacqueline Mburu London Metropolitan University, June 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 University responses to forced marriage & violence against women Marilyn Freeman, Renate Klein, Jacqueline Mburu London Metropolitan University, June 2013

2 12 October OVERVIEW Use of key terms Research context (extent of problem, agency statistics, victimisation surveys, disclosure dynamics) Policy context (public sector equality duty, legal measures related to FM, multiculturalism, cohesion debates) University responses: Key findings

3 12 October USE OF KEY TERMS Post-secondary, higher, further education (PSE, HE, FE) Forced marriage (FM) Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) Arranged marriage Violence against women (VAW) VAW specialist services/sector Reporting versus disclosure

4 12 October RESEARCH CONTEXT: Extent of the problem FMU statistics – 2011: 1468 cases (78% female victims, 22% male victims) – 2012: 1485 cases (82% female victims, 18% male victims) 2012: 1485 cases (82% female victims, 18% male victims) FM statistics from other agencies – 2008: between 5000 and 8000 cases in UK VAW students in the UK – 12% stalked, 14% serious physical or sexual assault, 68% sexually harassment (NUS 2010) – 11%-34% sexually violated, 30-58% stalked, 50%-69% sexually harassed (Stenning et al. 2012)

5 12 October RESEARCH CONTEXT: Reporting and disclosure Reporting of VAW to formal authorities is rare; Disclosure to informal third parties such as family and friends is more common but this also depends on the nature of the violation – Common with regard to sexual and domestic violence – Probably different for forced marriage as third parties may be conspiring in perpetration – Disclosure is risky; reaction of third party may further hurt victim

6 12 October POLICY CONTEXT Public sector equality duty Policy debates on VAW, multiculturalism and community cohesion Legal measures in the UK against FM – Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act (2007) Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act (2007) – Consultation on criminalising FM Consultation on criminalising FM – Intent to criminalise FM Intent to criminalise FM

7 12 October UNIVERSITY RESPONSES Why research PSE responses to FM/VAW? – Case characteristics – PSE as context of abuse & intervention – Current practices & ways forward Funding – Pilot study: London Metropolitan University ( ) – Expanded study: FMU ( )

8 12 October UNIVERSITY RESPONSES Methodology: Stakeholder interviews 1. PSE frontline staff How issues present, services, referral, training, institutional support 2. PSE managers Institutional responses, policies 3. NGO staff Cases involving students, working with PSE 4. Police officers Cases involving students, working with PSE

9 12 October EVIDENCE BASE Pilot study and follow-up study 24 staff members at 9 different PSE institutions 6 staff members at six different NGOs 5 Police officers from 5 different police departments

10 12 October AREAS OF KEY FINDINGS Complexity of cases Pathways to disclosure Problematic assumptions Red flags Creating opportunities for disclosure Confidentiality Supporting, not taking over Building expertise Institutional response: Information, policies, staff development

11 12 October Complexity of cases Difficult circumstances, multiple traumata Exploitation by relatives on whom student is financially dependent Physical abuse from partner with whom student also has a child Parents/family support student pursuing degree on condition that she get married to man of family’s choice when studies completed Student having experienced abuse from childhood, and in multiple abusive relationships Physical violence in context of FM

12 12 October Complexity of cases Further interpersonal and family dynamics Social support (or not) from friends and family Social network members may ally with perpetrator Child protective issues when abuse against mother In cases of forced marriage many family members may be involved in the abuse Strong attachments to parents and family members, even when they are very controlling (“without your family, you have no soul”)

13 12 October Pathways to disclosure Students usually come alone and with an issue about themselves, rarely about a friend or other person Problems tend to “eke out” once trust is established The presenting problem is often academic Staff members receiving disclosures include personal tutors, chaplains, counselors, debt advisors, lecturers. Fear that disclosure will undermine professional success

14 12 October Problematic assumptions I. About how problems will present Assuming that no disclosure means no problem Assuming that a student would articulate a problem in staff member’s terms Assuming that the distinction between arranged and forced marriage is clear Assuming that somebody else in the university is the first port of call (e.g., security officer assumes it’s the police; police assume it’s lecturers or personal tutors; personal tutor says there needs to be a bond first)

15 12 October Red flags in academia Failing academically – Failing a paper or exam – Sudden change in habits, not attending classes anymore Requesting leave from classes to go home for an “arranged” marriage Family or relationship “problems” (without necessarily labeling them rape, domestic violence, harassment or forced marriage)

16 12 October Problematic assumptions II. About the role of parents Relationship between parents and students Talking things over: student & parents Talking things over: with outsiders

17 12 October Creating opportunities for disclosure Asking – In conversation with student, probing possible warning signs Outreach – Talks, workshops, presentation Presence & Visibility – Posters in office, being present on campus Purpose of such opportunities is to show care and support student’s informed decision-making, including access to specialist services. This is NOT to make decisions for the student.

18 12 October Confidentiality Must be clear to students whether confidentiality can be maintained Breaking confidentiality may be needed to protect students but can also endanger them (parents may want to know things about their child but that does not mean they will be helpful) All staff, including temps, must be aware of the importance of confidentiality Specialised training on confidentiality may be useful for frontline staff such as security but also for others who might field calls from parents or family members

19 12 October Supporting, not taking over Staff may feel that they must help even if they do not know how (which may include ill-advised action such as talking to parents in cases of FM) Instead: Listening Being clear about what will remain confidential Keeping student informed and in control Supporting informed choices

20 12 October Building & accessing expertise Staff training on FM/VAW (mostly up to individual initiative) Team working and internal referrals (important for sharing expertise) Referrals to specialist organisations outside the university (important for accessing expertise but largely dependent on individual staff member’s knowledge of community)

21 12 October Institutional response Formal institutional response to FM/VAW is rare, hardly any written policies or protocols Mostly, response is left to motivation and commitment of individual staff members Systematic staff training on FM/VAW is rare to absent Team working important but vulnerable to staff turnover Universities not integrated into multi-agency working

22 12 October RECOMMENDATIONS Core responsibility Participation in multi-agency working Institutional response policy Staff training on policy Information campaign Periodical impact evaluation, including victim assessment of success

23 12 October IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES Comprehensive approach (formal policy) Coordinated response (and mechanism that sustains this) (maybe more important than lots of uncoordinated services). Outreach – Front line staff in counseling, welfare, support – Personal tutors – Lecturers – Student Union, societies within Student Union – Professional associations (AMOSSHE, UMHAN)

24 12 October Author contact Marilyn Freeman, London Metropolitan University, Renate Klein, London Metropolitan University,


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