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?

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