As many as 8,000 cases of forced marriage were reported in England last year, according to a Government report.
According to The Telegraph, the study published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families claims that the overwhelming majority of victims are teenage girls from Pakistan or Bangladesh.
AdvertisementThey are often coerced into getting married to preserve "family honor" rather than allow them to form relationships with boys from other cultures or religions, it is claimed, or to help others move to Britain.
The report says some of the young brides are forced to marry abroad after being taken on a supposed holiday then having their passports confiscated, while others are drugged or subjected to violence or threats if they protest.
Many forced marriages remain hidden because those involved are taken out of school, fear reporting relatives to the authorities or cannot obtain help overseas.
Some community groups in the UK also deny that the problem exists or claim that opposition to forced marriage is a form of racism, the new study says.
However the report calculates that, in 2008, between 5,275 and 7,750 cases were reported to the authorities in England.
The Foreign Office's dedicated unit dealt with 420 cases last year - almost treble the 152 in 2005 - and has now issued guidance to health workers and teachers on how to spot potential victims.