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Forced marriage stats reveal a bigger problem

View profile for Jonathan Corbishley
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According to the most recent Home Office Statistics in 2018, there were 1,764 cases of forced marriage involving Government intervention.

Forced marriage is a crime that goes under the radar, yet is quite common and should be brought into the open more when you consider that a third of the victims forced into marriage are women under 18.

The cases reported on in Home Office Statistics occurred when the Forced Marriage Unit, investigating such matters, were contacted directly to investigate.

Sadly, in many of these instances, the issue only comes to light when people intervene, with only a small proportion from victims reporting the crime themselves.

Due to it’s difficult and sometimes hidden nature many cases are never uncovered and, as family law experts, we think it is no exaggeration to say the numbers investigated in no way reflect the true figure.

The research also highlighted that forced marriage was not a problem specific to one country or culture. However, cases involving Asian countries do make up the majority of the work of the unit. Many forced marriages can be between couples where both are from the UK - it is not always the stereotype of a child bride from distant lands.

Since it was established in 2005, the Forced Marriage Unit has worked with many organisations and professionals to increase their profile and support victims and potential victims. It is important work that continues.

Like many involved in this very sensitive area of law, we have heard some truly heart-breaking tales of young people, and it’s not always women, being thrust into a strange country, cut adrift from their loved ones, and being made virtual slaves through marriage.

We feel that it is important for more open debates to take place about such matters so people can have the freedom to choose. It is a crime that we all need to keep firmly on the radar.