Tag Archives: forced marriages

Holidays Time For Marriage Among Muslim Girls

Over the past decades, teachers in England have noticed a strange phenomenon, girls who were students in their classes in June, disappeared and were never enrolled when fall came around. In the city of Bradford alone, 250 girls did not return from summer holidays in countries such as Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. The reason is quite simple, they were married off by their parents to some nice men in those countries. These are not marriages based on love so much as based on what parents desire for their daughters. Jasvinder Songhera is leading a campaign to visit schools in England in order to make educators aware of how their students are being forced into marriage.

There is need for new laws that protect the rights of girls against being forced to leave England in order to be forced into a marriage with an unknown man.

Ending Forced Marriages In Netherlands

An all too common experience in the Netherlands is that young girls go on vacation to their parent’s homeland and do not return because they were married off to someone or they might return as a married woman. A new pilot program will ask young girls who are headed home on vacation to sign a declaration in which they make clear there is no intention on their part to be part of an arranged marriage. If the student is forced into such a marriage, the school can contact the police. This program is in effect in Great Britain which has staff who are ready to fly to a country and work with local authorities for the return of the young girl.

The legal ground for return of the girl is the compulsory education act which requires school attendance and if parents fail to have their child in school they are subject to legal penalties. Schools will also undertake an education program concerning arranged marriages and the legal rights of girls.

France Seeks To End Genital Mutilation

The French government has launched an aggressive program to end forced marriages and genital mutilation in the nation. Over 100,000 leaflets will be distributed in schools and other public services explaining the dangers of genital mutilation. French law forbids forced marriage and allows prosecution of anyone who mutilates the genitals of a girl who has French citizenship or has resident status, even if the operation is conducted in another country. The campaign seeks to get the word out to immigrant neighborhoods where too often women are subject to the barbaric practice of genital mutilation. It is estimated about 55,000 women and girls in France have been genitally mutilated and about 70,000 young women live in fear o being married against their will.

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Forced Marriages Major Issue In Modern UK

During the past half century, Great Britain has welcomed to its shores thousands of immigrants from southeast Asia and the Middle East. A majority of these immigrants have successfully integrated their lives within the context of 21st century life, but large numbers cling to traditions and values of their home countries. Hundreds of children from these families, fearing for their lives are taking advantage of a new hot line called Honour Network which provides information and assistance. Many callers seek to escape parental pressure to enter unwanted marriages or fear if they become pregnant a family member will kill them in accordance with the concept of “honor killing.”

The latest figures indicate 62 calls are made each week, one in ten being under the age of 16 and one 14 year-old said she feared being murdered because she had become pregnant. The network is run by the charity Karma Nirvana and is funded by the government Forced Marriage Unit. The charity was founded by Kasvinder Sanghera, who was disowned by her family for refusing a forced marriage. She believes the actual number of forced marriages is much higher than what is revealed by the phone calls. “These numbers will be just the tip of the iceberg.”

Most callers say the source of violence against them comes from family members more often than husbands. Ms. Sanghera says, “it shows how violence is being perpetrated by the entire community.” The issue is how does one best avoid the emergence of such attitudes in a modern post industrial society?

Disabled Youngsters Used For Passport Marriages

There are reports that scores of youngsters in Great Britain who have learning disabilities are being forced into marriages in order to help a spouse gain a passport into the UK. The majority of cases reported involve families from Pakstan, Bangladesh and India. Spouses are not always told about the disability and only discover the truth when they first meet, usually that is at the wedding. The Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage unit deal with 400 such cases last year and more than 80 of these involved people with learning disabilities.

Most probably there are two factors involved in such marriage arrangements, one is the opportunity for a male to obtain a passport allowing entry into the United Kingdom. The other is a way for the family to ensure the child with a disability will be looked after when the parents are dead. Many Sanghera, a social worker with voice UK, a charity which helps people with learning disabilities says, “in 15 years I have worked with more than 100 people with learning disabilities forced into marriage, from South Africa, African and Middle Eastern communities.”

Bangladesh Forced Marriage Halted

A British teenager has been rescued from a forced marriage to her Bangladeshi cousin due to intervention by a British diplomat. The 19 year old girl was traveling with her mother in Bangladesh in order to be forced to marry a cousin. Hours before the wedding was to take place, the girl telephoned the British consular office in Syihet and an embassy official shortly arrived with local police to halt the marriage. The girl was handed back to her mother on condition she would not be forced into any marriage. The British High Commission in Dhaka says it has assisted in preventing 56 such forced marriage in the past year.

The issue of forced marriages remains an interesting contrast in views regarding the meaning of family and the power of parents to make decisions regarding their children. Historically, parents arranged marriages but in the past century this cultural tradition has died out in most industrial and post industrial societies. The rights of women have become important and this incident is simply one more example of the clash of cultures that remains alive in many parts of the world.

British Conservatives Fight Forced Marriages

David Cameron, leader of Britiain’s Conservative Party, pledged to end forced marriages if he became prime minister. He believes the Forced Marriage Act of 2007 does not go far enough to prevent young women from being pressured into marriages against their will in order to please parents. He supports several changes such as raising the minimum age for women who are married abroad, insisting every spouse knows English before arrival, making groom and bride be separately interviewed to ensure there is willingess from both parties to be married, and forcing anyone who wants to get married abroad to register that intent prior to leaving.

We oppose forced marriages, but some of Cameron’s ideas could readily backfire. What if a person on vacation falls in love and wants to get married? It is common among many immigrants for the father to go on ahead, earn money, and then send for the wife and children. The Cameron proposal would hnder that process since the wife(my mother) usually learns English after arrival, not before.