Feb 24 2011
The UK government is defending how it deals with forced marriage with one victim saying there is not enough help. According to new figures, there were 1,735 incidents of potential or actual cases involving British Muslim nationals reported to the forced marriage unit (FMU) in 2010.
BBC –More than half of the cases dealt with last year by the government’s forced marriage unit were related to Pakistan. Meanwhile, almost a third involved people under the age of 18.
One 15-year-old victim has told Newsbeat that schools and other agencies are not doing enough to help. The teenager says she was tricked into going to Pakistan by her dad, but she managed to escape days before her wedding to a man twice her age.
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Brown, the minister in joint charge of the UK’s forced marriage unit, says he’s “sorry” that the victim feels so badly let down. But he also defended the actions of the British government.
The 15-year-old victim has been talking about how she risked her life to escape a forced marriage in Pakistan. She says her father wanted to marry her off to a man 16 years older than her so he could come to live in the UK. “It was
just about the money,” she admitted. “He was literally selling me and he was selling my nationality so I could bring the person back. “I think it would have been £10,000.”
When she refused to marry the man, her father started to beat her. “He whacked me across the face,” she admitted. “Then I started rebelling more, saying, ‘No’.”Then he actually got a glass and scarred my arms. “He had somebody holding me from behind, one of his servants, and he got a glass and was actually cutting very deep cuts.”
Her father then began locking her in her room without food or water for hours on end. “I thought he might kill me. I just thought I was going to die there in that room.”
Thousands of Muslim women are annually disfigured by acid thrown in their face for the crime of asking for a divorce. When a Muslim woman is disfigured it doesn’t even make the local paper in an Islamic country, it is not even considered a crime. At best the man responsible gets a tap on the wrist.
After managing to escape and get to the British High Commission in Pakistan, staff placed her in a secret women’s refuge. She was then flown back to the UK and reunited with her mother and is now safe.