Minister under pressure from forced marriage lobby

By staff

The government is under pressure to take its opposition to forced marriage overseas, as development groups push for concrete action on the issue.

Having secured the Forced Marriages Act in the UK, campaigners now want Lynne Featherstone, equalities minister and international violence against women champion, to push for an international response to the practise.

“More can be done by the British government to strengthen its role in preventing early and forced marriage and supporting those who have fled or survived it,” said Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK. The charity launched the 'Take the Vow' petition this week to call for more action on child marriages.

A House of Commons event next Wednesday will see policy experts consult with Jasvinder Sanghera, a leading figure in the campaign against forced marriage.

Ms Sanghera faced death threats after establishing the first UK helpline for victims of forced marriage, a practise she herself rejected at the age of 16, causing her family to disown her.

The Plan UK petition comes as a new report suggested that one in seven under-15-year-old girls will become child brides in the world’s poorest countries.

It found that girls forced into marriage in their early teens are more likely to die during childbirth and drop out of school early.