[Stop-traffic] News/UK: POLICE `MUST SAVE WOMEN FROM FORCED MARRIAGE'

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/UK: POLICE `MUST SAVE WOMEN FROM FORCED MARRIAGE'
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Jul 31 2000 - 08:45:13 EDT


                  POLICE `MUST SAVE WOMEN FROM FORCED MARRIAGE'

PA 6-29-00 3:55 AM

PA News.

   By James Lyons, Home Affairs Correspondent, PA News
    Police must do more to save women from being forced into marriage, a
Government report was expected to say today.
    At least 1,000 British Asian women are thought to face being made to
marry someone selected by their parents each year.
    Every police force in Britain should put emergency procedures in place
to rescue women facing such a threat, the first national study of the
practice is expected to propose.
    And dedicated "forced marriages" teams working in embassies in some
Asian countries are expected to be proposed in the report, from a working
party chaired by two Labour peers, Baroness Uddin and Lord Ahmed.
    But while welcoming the report, campaigners have been angered by
suggestions that social workers could act as mediators between women and
their estranged families.
    Hannana Siddiqui, of Southall Black Sisters, said the plans could force
more vulnerable women back into abusive situations.
    "The agencies should give protection not mediation," said Ms Siddiqui, a
member of the working group.
    "Women are already under huge pressure from their communities, often
with elders or community leaders acting as mediators.
    "It will put more pressure on them to go back, often in to an abusive
situation."
    The report is expected to propose a "trigger mechanism" which would
bring in social services, schools or even Foreign Office officials based
abroad as soon as police received a complaint.
    An "early warning" system for marriage registrars, police and
immigration officials is also likely to be among the report's
recommendations.
    However, the report is unlikely to propose new laws, saying that
existing crimes such as rape, child abuse, abduction and false imprisonment
can be used to combat the problem.
    Women with families from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India are most likely
to be affected, but the practice is also found in those with African and
Middle Eastern roots.
    The review was prompted by a court ruling last year that parents who
took their daughters abroad to be married against their will were guilty of
abduction.
    The report is expected to endorse Government plans, announced earlier
this year, to encourage teachers to tell police and social services about
pupils they think could be at risk.
    Teenage magazines, TV soap operas and pop radio stations are also likely
to be urged to carry stories that show Asian girls they are right to resist
forced marriages.

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