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Forced Marriage

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps the Government has taken to reduce the number of forced marriages; (201657)

(2) what steps the Government has taken to assist those who have been subject to forced marriage.

In January 2005, the joint Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) was set up by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The FMU leads on Government policy on forced marriage and has developed guidelines for professionals (the police, education professionals, health and social workers) on how to deal with cases of forced marriage. In addition, as part of the National Domestic Violence Delivery Plan, the FMU coordinates an outreach programme to raise awareness of the problem, and runs a dedicated support and advice helpline for victims of forced marriage. The FMU also works with embassies and high commissions overseas to rescue and repatriate those British citizens forced into marriage overseas.

Last year the FMU:

assisted approximately 400 victims of forced marriage (168 of these were overseas cases);

spoke at over 80 awareness raising events around the country;

contributed to the passage through Parliament of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. One of the provisions of the Act is to make the guidelines for professionals statutory; and also

assisted in the development of the ‘Honour Network’—a helpline to support survivors of forced marriage.

We have also established an Honour Based Violence Steering Group, led by the Home Office, to identify actions and develop a work programme to address honour based violence and also develop a more dedicated approach to respond to the needs of Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims of domestic violence over the next few years.