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Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Forced Marriage Unit:
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Forced Marriage in the UK A marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties where duress (emotional pressure in addition to physical abuse) is a factor. - A Choice by Right (June 2000)
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Scale of the problem: London339 East67 Southeast129 Southwest33 E. Mids94 W. Mids208 Northeast51 Northwest197 Yorks & Humber134 Scotland44 Wales34 N. Ireland1 Total of Reportings where region known1331 Unknown287 Total - All Reportings1618
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Who are we and what can we do to help? FCO offering consular assistance since : Forced Marriage Unit established. FMU is now the Governments one-stop shop for: Developing effective Government policy Awareness raising Casework – Reluctant Sponsors – Consular – Domestic What do we do … in the UK? Reassure confidentiality Provide support, information and contacts (lawyers, social services, refuges, counsellors, voluntary organisations) Work with police, social workers, teachers, welfare officers, health professionals in UK to protect people at risk Arrange safe accommodation in UK Provide information on options and services after a forced marriage
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Razias Story: A Forced Marriage Timeline Nov 07 Razia (15) taken out of school by father. Taken to Bangladesh Jan 08 School contacts FMU. A student had approached them after receiving a text from Razia saying that she was being beaten and that her family was planning to force her into marriage. School contacted Razia to ask questions from FMU. Address in Bangladesh confirmed. Father had believed her to be perverted by the UK and was planning to leave her in Bangladesh for some time. She was to be married prior to return to UK. Contact made between Razia and BCG Sylhet. Competence established. Had undergone abuse but not in immediate risk of further abuse or marriage. Ongoing contact established. Father was instructed to bring Razia to the consulate for welfare check. Razias father returned to the UK. She remained in Bangladesh but said that marriage threat had dissipated after contact from consulate.
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Razias Story: A Forced Marriage Timeline Feb 08 – Razia contacted BCG, said that her uncles were looking at potential partners for her. Marriage was imminent. School welfare officer approached father in UK at our request (to enquiry look routine). He said that he would not return her to the UK. Solicitor drew up wardship papers. Father made to surrender passport to Tipstaff. Family made Razia call solicitor to say that she was fine. She then told the solicitor quietly that her marriage was imminent and that she was terrified. BHC Dhaka carried out a rescue operation, transferred her to our refuge in Dhaka and arranged for repatriation to the UK. Razia was met off of the plane in the UK by social workers at Heathrow and transferred into the care of childrens social care.
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Responding to Forced Marriage Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness - Mike OBrien former Solicitor General
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Criminalising Forced Marriage In 2005, the Government carried out a national consultation on whether or not to introduce a specific criminal offence for forced marriage. The majority of respondents felt that the disadvantages of new legislation outweighed the advantages. Many worried that criminalising forced marriage would force the issue underground. Victims of forced marriage are often unwilling to take action against their parents, and many respondents felt that the legislation would not be used. The Government decided not to introduce specific legislation in June Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 (England/Wales) Courts have power to make Forced Marriage Protection Orders. Breach of an injunction would not itself be a criminal offence, but would be a contempt of court. Courts would have the full range of sanctions available to them, including imprisonment. Enables third parties to apply for an injunction on behalf of somebody else. Allowed Statutory Guidance on FM to be issued to agencies.
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Some challenges Concern around cultural sensitivity Lack of understanding of cultural context and responses - lack of awareness of the seriousness of the abuse Underground issue - reluctance of victims to come forward Confidentiality & resourcefulness of perpetrators Mediation – Dont Do it!
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Statutory Obligations: -Senior Management Commitment -Defined Roles & Responsibilities -Clear Lines of Accountability -Staff Training & Awareness Raising -Signposting Practice Guidelines -Monitoring and Evaluation -Record Keeping -Risk Assessment -Confidentiality -Victim-centred Approach -Danger of Family Mediation -Agency-specific requirements FMU Guidelines: Police, Social Services and Health and Education Professionals,, Best practice guidance - UK case & if you hear of someone gone overseas Stakeholder consultation on draft revised multi-agency guidelines Expected to be issued as single volume in Spring 2009
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Some General Principles: Confidentiality One chance rule – take it seriously, make it your problem Give advice to stop the victim from going overseas Consult with forced marriage unit
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Finally… When working with victims/ potential victims of forced marriage Remind them that they have rights: Right only to enter into marriage with their full and free consent Right to make decisions about their life and their own bodies Right to education, freedom of movement, freedom of thought Remind them that they have choices: To go through with the marriage To avoid the marriage by fleeing their family To remain with the family and try to resolve the situation (this does not usually work and can place them in danger) To seek legal protection Refer to FMU and support agencies
Forced Marriage Unit April 2009 Farhana Aktar© Forced Marriage Unit Do you need further information? Please contact: – Leaflets and guidance available
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