Girls as Young as Nine Being Rescued from Forced Marriages

by VR Sreeraman on  December 29, 2008 at 1:46 PM Child Health News   - G J E 4
 Girls as Young as Nine Being Rescued from Forced Marriages
As pupils are regularly disappearing from schools, an organization is rescuing British girls as young as nine from forced marriages.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who founded Karma Nirvana to help such victims, is campaigning to help young girls escape forced marriage.

While no accurate figures exist to show how many children are affected in the UK, schools are seeing many pupils regularly disappearing, as many of them are prisoner in their own homes before being flown abroad and forced to marry.

"These young girls are very isolated, they only know the environment they've been brought up in, they've been conditioned - groomed almost - to only know this way of life," Sky News quoted Sanghera, as saying.

She added: "Their partners have been chosen for them and that process starts from eight-years-old."

Figures reveal that over 2,000 children went missing from school last year, mainly in areas identified as high risk by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit, which dealt with 1,300 cases in the first nine months of 2008. A third of these cases involved under 18s.

However, campaigners feel that the statistics do not reveal the true picture as forced marriage is so under-reported.

But, new laws provide court powers to issue injunctions preventing someone being forced into marriage.

And a judge used the same legislation in the case of the Dr Humayra Abedin who was held captive by her family in Bangladesh.

But, Sanghera has warned that underage girls at risk of kidnap, rape and violence, rarely get the support they need, which is usually because schools are reluctant to intervene for fear of being accused of racism.

Her own family chose a husband for her when she was eight and at 14-years-old she was told she would marry him.

Although she ran away, but years later discovered that her sister had committed suicide to escape an abusive marriage.

Since then, she dedicated her life to helping others.

She said: "If a young person contacts us, we first give them the reassurance that our loyalty is to them not their family. We want to keep them safe, we'll talk to them, put them in touch with a survivor, we'll be their voice with agencies that can help."

Source: ANI

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