RESS RELEASE: TAKING ACTION AGAINST FORCED MARRIAGES, Dedicated website and helpline supporting FM victims is launched

From: Tavinder N.
Sent on: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 10:27 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 26th July 2012

TAKING ACTION AGAINST FORCED MARRIAGES

Dedicated website and helpline supporting FM victims is launched

JAN Trust (www.jantrust.org) is a London based women’s charity providing a range of services and activities for disadvantaged grass roots women. Their work includes raising awareness and preventing forced marriages, domestic violence and honour based violence.

JAN Trust has launched a dedicated website (www.againstforcedmarriages.org) and a free helpline [masked]) to support (potential) victims of forced marriages. JAN Trust also recently launched its report on forced marriages and the Pakistani community in the House of Lords on the 9th of July with Lord Sheikh.

Statistics show that a ‘typical’ forced marriage case involves young women in their teens or early twenties and the Pakistani community make up 65% of cases handled by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU). Therefore, JAN Trust consulted with over 1,000 grass roots Pakistani women over a period of 3 years from 2008-2011. 85% of women stated that a forced marriage had occurred in their family but crucially, 77% said that they would not approach the police for further help if faced by or in a forced marriage. However, over 90% of women stated that they wanted to know more about the issue. As recent news reports covering both forced marriage cases as well the criminalisation of forced marriages demonstrate, this is a very topical issue in Britain today.

The website’s aim is to support minority ethnic women on the issue of forced marriages. Whether they are in a forced marriage themselves, are worried that they or a friend might be at risk, or whether a practitioner just wants to find out more about the issue, they will find all the information needed on this website.

Simultaneously, JAN Trust has launched its own free and confidential helpline to support victims who are in fear of going into a forced marriage or are already in one. The helpline will provide victims with all the information they need on forced marriages, discuss the options available to them and support them at every step of the way. Helpline staff will provide culturally sensitive advice in Urdu, Punjabi and English. The helpline will also cater to people who are worried about friends or relatives, as well as teachers or professionals working with actual or potential victims of forced marriages.

Finally, JAN Trust recently launched its report “Consent Matters: Towards effective prevention of forced marriages within the Pakistani community” in the House of Lords with Lord Sheikh on Monday 9th of July. JAN Trust predicts that the government’s plans to criminalise forced marriage will put victims at risk of retaliation acts if they incriminate family members and substantially increase the already high levels of underreporting. Therefore, the government needs to commit sufficient funding to counter these negative outcomes and commit themselves to a long-term solution – JAN Trust argues that the way forward should be a grass-roots approach focused on changing mind sets and the education of affected communities and mediation between FM victims and their families.

The forced marriage campaign idea was founded by Sajda Mughal, Project Manager at JAN Trust. She said:

“We have catered for thousands of forced marriage victims over twenty years and the dedicated website and helpline which are in a variety of community languages will help us cater for many more victims. Alternatively, we are also able to provide advice and guidance to practitioners including teachers and GP’s on this important issue.

It is incredibly important for the community to deal with this from within as they have greater ownership in the changes taking place in their communities and will feel proud and responsible to defend the message that FMs are wrong in front of others'

 

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