We had a very successful conference on Forced Marriage on Thursday 16th February 2017. Over 200 people attended, with many more wanting to attend., showing exceptional demand. We are sending this email to outline key messages as we realise there is a deep interest in the subject.
Forced marriage & honour based violence (FM/HBV) is part of the spectrum of violence against women and girls – and should not be viewed in isolation. Though it also affects some young boys/ men – the differences in context and consequences are vital to understand to get the response right. Often there will be other types of abuse such as domestic or sexual violence. In the case of Shafilea Ahmed, she had asked for support around the physical and emotional abuse she was facing and did not receive it; had she done so, it may have prevented her death.
The one chance rule – when someone comes forward, please believe them and take action. There is sometimes only one opportunity to do this and it can save lives.
Risk rises exponentially when the victim starts resisting – the Femicide Census shows that of the 936 women killed by men over the last 6 years – 76% were killed in the first year of separation. When victims disclose – support has to be safe and confidential.
Forced marriage is not just a South Asian issue – there are many more communities affected, and you could miss a case if forced marriage is just thought to affect communities from South Asia. The Government’s Forced Marriage Unit has dealt with cases from 90 countries.
Training and awareness has to be constant – The training our Consortium has provided reached 3,386 children & people. Many professionals were ignorant of the difference between an arranged and a forced marriage & really valued the training we provided in giving them the confidence to identify and handle disclosures.
Women want safe pathways to support – Our services provide this so please do get in touch with the relevant service in your area for support. 551 victims were provided with direct, in-depth support over the past year. We are grateful to the PCC’s Office, local Community Safety Partnerships, local authorities in the West Midlands and the Government for funding this support.
We would like to thank the Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office & the national ‘Our Girl’ FM/HBV campaign for funding this conference.