85% of women stated that a forced marriage had occurred in their family but crucially, 77% said that they would not approach the police for further help
Report to be published with evidence that government plans might have detrimental consequences
27th March 2012
JAN Trust (www.jantrust.org), a London-based women’s charity, is publishing the report “Consent Matters: Towards effective prevention of forced marriages within the Pakistani community in the UK” to coincide with the government’s consultation on the criminalisation of forced marriages. Statistics show that a ‘typical’ forced marriage case involves young women in their teens or early twenties* and the Pakistani community makes up 65% of cases handled by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU)**. Therefore, JAN Trust consulted with over 1,000 grass roots Pakistani women over a period of 3 years from 2008-2011. 85% of women stated that a forced marriage had occurred in their family but crucially, 77% said that they would not approach the police for further help if faced by or in a forced marriage. However, over 90% of women stated that a project is needed to raise awareness, eradicate incorrect ideologies of forced marriages, and to signpost individuals for further support. These women stressed that they did not want to incriminate their relatives as this often leads to a complete break with their family and community and can also result in a higher risk of retaliation acts after bringing public ‘shame’ on the family. Victims also risk being taken out of the UK as a result.
This is particularly important in light of the government’s plans to criminalise forced marriage as JAN Trust believes that in the event of criminalisation the already high levels of underreporting will rise substantially. Instead, the way forward should be a grass-roots approach focusing on the education of affected communities and mediation between forced marriage victims and their families wherever possible. To effectively eradicate forced marriages JAN Trust proposes a strategy based on dialogue and cooperation with the communities at risk in order to tackle the issue from ground-level. JAN Trust calls on the government to reject short-term solutions and consider the deeper implications of the proposed legislation that might have detrimental effects in the long-term.
Sajda Mughal, Project Manager of JAN Trust said:
“The report has been produced from over 20 years’ experience in dealing with forced marriage cases and from a consultation we carried out with Pakistani women and girls which produced shocking results, including some who believed that forced marriages were permitted by Islam.
Already, we know that many forced marriage cases go unreported and so what makes the government now think that by criminalising forced marriages these victims will come forward? It is vital to work with the Pakistani community to educate, raise awareness and highlight that this is an inhumane act that is completely condemned in religion”.
To receive a free copy of the report please email firstname.lastname@example.org
*House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee (2011) Forced Marriage; Eighth Report of Session 2010-2012, London: The Stationary Office Limited. p.04
and BBC Info (2011) Ethics guide: Forced Marriages. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/forcedmarriage/introduction_1.sh... (Accessed: 06 Jan 2012)
**Khanum, N. (2008) FM, family cohesion and community engagement: national learning through a case study of Luton, Equality in Diversity. p.09
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Notes to editor:
1. JAN Trust is an award winning charity that educates, engages and empowers grass roots disadvantaged women and girls in the UK. For over twenty years, JAN Trust has been dedicated to the cause of combating poverty, abuse and social exclusion among Black, Asian, minority ethnic, refugee and asylum women.
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5. For further information and enquiries regarding this report please contact Sajda Mughal firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively via phone at 020 8889 9433
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