Forced marriage survivors offered new help

Survivors of forced marriage will be given help to start a new life, following the latest initiative by the government.

The Home Office unveiled details of a new support network and handbook today, designed to help women, men and children escape forced and abusive relationships.

Ministers also confirmed they will be supporting Lord Lester’s forced marriage bill this week, designed to give the courts greater powers to prevent forced marriages.

The Home Office has published a new handbook for survivors of forced marriage, including practical help and information.

It has also launched the survivors’ network alongside the NGO Karma Nirvana, which will offer long-term emotional support to survivors.

“The government is determined to help the victims of forced marriage and the handbook and network announced today are important steps in making sure survivors get the help they need and deserve to lead a new life,” said Home Office minister Baroness Scotland.

She continued: “Forced marriage is terrible for those women, children and men who find themselves in an often violent and abusive situation against their will.

“It’s something that should not be happening in the modern world – it’s not a respected cultural or religious tradition. Neither does it have anything to do with honour – there can be no honour in a marriage based on force and hostility.”

Every year, the government’s forced marriage unit rescues 300 women, children and men and deals with 5,000 inquiries from people concerned someone is trapped in a forced marriage.

Foreign Office minister Lord Triesman explained that the department will be continuing its work with the launch of a two-year strategy on forced marriage, designed to raise awareness of the issue and available support.

Cathy Ashton, a minister at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said the government will not tolerate forced marriage. To this end it will support Lord Lester’s private member’s bill when it enters its committee stage on May 10th.

The prime minister has also previously spoken out against forced marriages, describing them as “inhuman”.