A new study by Nazia Khanum reveals the growing problem in Great Britain of young girls, and some boys, being forced into marriages by their parents. She did an exhaustive study of Bradford which contain about 250,000 Muslims. Kekvin Brennan, minister responsible for child safety had reported at least 33 Bradford children under the age of 16 have disappeared without a trace. Brennan claims similar statistics are emerging from cities containing a high percent of Muslim immigrants. However, Ms. Khanum doubts the accuracy of the Brennan figures which she considers much too low. In the city of Lufton alone, there are 300 calls each year to an emergency number dealing with forced marriages.
Th socioiogist found girls living like prisoners in their own homes and came across cases of girls who were excellent students ready to attend a university who were forced to abandon their academic careers because their parents wanted them married. She uncovered many cases of girls being given a “vacation” back home only to discover on arrival they were being married to a man they had never seen. Girls are threatened by parents, who even promise to commit suicide, if the daughter will not agree to marriage. “Emme,” a student in hiding in Lufton said her parents made clear to her she was now the subject of her husband and must always obey him.
Khanum increasingly discovers examples of British officials who don’t want to get involved in family matters and simply refuse that forced marriages are a national scandal. “If the community refuses to recognize the problem,” she says, “it won’t do anything to change it. We must finally expose these human rights violations.”