Raising Awareness of Forced Marriage Event (5 Dec 2014)

Over 170 people attended an event in Bradford on Thursday 4th December to raise awareness in changes to legislation concerning forced marriage.

The event was organised by Bradford Council and voluntary sector partners to provide an opportunity to frontline workers to support those at risk of forced marriage. Key note speaker was West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burn-Williamson who said: "Tackling forced marriage is a key priority within my Police and Crime Plan and I have said I would support a partner led campaign to raise awareness of the new laws around forced marriage and honour based violence.

"I have also pledged to support events and meetings where the issues are highlighted and can be discussed which is why I am so pleased to be here today. I have committed funding from my Safer Communities Fund to the Staying Put group for projects and awareness raising such as the event which aims to ensure victims know they are not alone and there is the right support out there for them.

"Not all victims want to tell the police and have their crime recorded, while others may not want to be witnesses in a criminal prosecution. I would urge anyone who needs any more information about forced marriage to visit /get-involved/campaigns/forced-marriage.aspx. I also highlighted the Help for Victims website at www.helpforvictims.co.uk which I recently launched in five different languages."

The event was opened by Deputy Leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Imran Hussain, who welcomed the support from multi-agency partners. He said: "It is only with the support of our partners from the statutory and voluntary sectors that we will be able to support those at risk of being forced into marriage and to stop this practice happening."

New legislation was introduced in June which has made forcing someone to marry against their will a criminal offence. Forced marriage can involve physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse including being held unlawfully captive, assaulted and raped.

In 2013, the government's Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage to more than 1300 people.

Yasmin Khan, Director of Staying Put a local organisation supporting victims of abuse to remain in their own homes, welcomed the event and agreed that 'organisations need to work better together to improve communication and ensure that anyone at risk of being forced into marriage knows where they can go to request help and is supported appropriately'.

The event was attended by staff from voluntary and community organisations, Police, health, housing, social workers, schools and other local groups.

For more information on forced marriage visit the Government's Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151 or email [email protected]

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