One of my team of whips is getting married this weekend on what will be a great and memorable day. For some young women that’s not the case. Forced Marriage is a hidden problem and the Government’s current campaign to highlight the danger is welcome. Too often young victims, not always girls and not always young are taken on what they are told is a family holiday only to find the real plan is to marry them off to a stranger against their will. Three out of four victims are girls and more than 100 countries are involved. In 2005 the Labour Government set up the Forced Marriage Unit run jointly by the FCO and Home Office. Annually support is sought for more than a thousand victims and in the early years Civil Protection Orders were used to keep victims safe. In 2012 the Government made forced marriage a criminal offence. There is a dilemma for policy makers. Criminalising an action may discourage reporting particularly when parents are in the frame. It’s interesting that since 2012 the numbers contacting the FMU has fallen though they are rising again now. A spike in 2016 suggests high profile cases and publicity encourage reporting. If you have suspicions of forced marriage contact the police or FMU. And if you’re flying from UK airports this summer and there’s a slight delay whilst checks are made please be understanding, it’s for a really important cause.

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