London, Tuesday 5th March: A potentially life-saving smartphone app is being launched today by Freedom Charity, in conjunction with the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) and the Metropolitan Police.
New Government figures, just released, suggest that young people in the 16 to 25 age group are the most at risk from being forced into marriage.
Aimed primarily at people in their teens and early twenties, the app has been designed to look like a game so as not to arouse suspicion from parents and to make it attractive to use. However, it carries serious information, listing the warning signs to look out for in cases of Forced Marriage and dishonour-based violence, and helping potential victims, their friends, teachers and other professionals to assess whether an individual might be at risk.
At the touch of a button the user can be taken straight through to the emergency services and helplines for organisations including Freedom Charity, the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit, CEOP, ChildLine and Samaritans.
Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, said: “We listened to young people and took action when they told us they would prefer information to be communicated to them by way of an app. In accessing the Freedom app, the user is just two clicks away from getting life-saving help. It's the 999 of apps and we urge everyone to download it, for free, today."
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Consular Policy, Mark Simmonds, said: “Forcing someone to marry is an appalling and indefensible practice which is why the Government is committed to eliminating it, with young people particularly vulnerable. We will use every means at our disposal, whether it’s engaging with schools and communities or through using mobiles and social media to reach potential victims. We want those who are worried about forced marriage to know that there is help out there.”
ACPO lead on Forced Marriage, Commander Mak Chishty: “Forced marriage is a crime. The police service is committed to doing all we can to protect victims and bring offenders to justice; we have developed our knowledge and expertise in this area to enable us to do this. However, we know that this crime is underreported and many victims and potential victims find it difficult to approach the police directly. The Freedom app makes it easier for young people who could be at risk to get advice and reach out to the police and other agencies that can help them.”
Detective Superintendent Reg Hooke, of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Child Abuse Investigation Command: “The contents of the Freedom app have been developed by Freedom with support from the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Command. I commend it to all young people and professionals who work with the young. It recognises that often their best and most immediate support comes from friends and others who see them every day. In this day and age, with our level of social networking and communication, no one should be suffering and be unheard and the app gives another voice to young people.”
For more information and to arrange interviews with Aneeta Prem and a case study please contact:
Sophia Dettmer, Southwick Media Consultancy.
Tel: 07803 800164. Email: email@example.com.
Notes to editors:
Freedom’s app can be downloaded for free. Information on how to do this is on Freedom’s website. www.freedomcharity.org.uk. To see a film demonstrating the app please follow this link: http://vimeo.com/60967260 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RWfbmGq4e0
Freedom Charity was established in 2010 to save the lives of vulnerable children and young people in the UK who are at risk of, or are subjected to, violent crimes, dishonour-based violence and forced marriage. Freedom believes we all should be entitled to choose whom we wish to marry and that this is a basic human right.
Freedom set up the country’s first 24/7 forced marriage telephone and text helpline. The telephone number is: 0845 607 0133 and text service details are: text 4freedom to 88802. The helplines are staffed by trained professionals to aid both victims of forced marriage and friends and professionals seeking advice.
A Government survey carried out in 2009 estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 young people are pressed into early or forced marriage each year in the UK. Although most victims are of Asian origin, the practice can also be found in other ethnic groups including Turkish, Greek, African, Arab, people from former Soviet Union countries as well as the travelling community.
Freedom Charity visits schools and runs a national education programme. Freedom's founder, Aneeta Prem, has written a novel for children aged 9+ about forced marriage called "But It's Not Fair" which she distributes (free) to schools. Aneeta says she has found someone affected by Forced Marriage in virtually every school she has visited (she visited over 50 schools last year).
Freedom Charity welcomes donations in order to be able to continue to raise awareness of forced marriage in the UK and thus help to save lives.
For more information on the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit go to www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage
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