Young people aged between 16 and 25 are most at risk of being forced into marriage, latest statistics from the Forced Marriage Unit suggest.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Consular Policy, Mark Simmonds, said: “Forcing someone to marry is an appalling and indefensible practice which is why the Government is committed to eliminating it, with young people particularly vulnerable. We will use every means at our disposal, whether it’s engaging with schools and communities or through using mobiles and social media to reach potential victims. We want those who are worried about forced marriage to know that there is help out there.”
Freedom Charity is today launching a new smartphone app designed to provide information about forced marriage with links to where potential victims can get help. The free app, which has been part-funded by the Forced Marriage Unit, is available to download on iPhone.
The free app will be a useful tool for both victims and professionals alike. It is designed to look like a game and offers, among other things, advice on where to go for help, and what the warning signs may be.
Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention, Jeremy Browne, said: “Forced marriage is a devastating form of abuse that is absolutely unacceptable in our society. The new figures show an alarming number of victims, including the young and vulnerable. It is vital we protect them. By criminalising forced marriage the government is sending a strong message that this terrible practice will not be tolerated. But legislation alone is not enough and the new app will also provide a crucial lifeline for potential victims.”
Freedom Charity founder, Aneeta Prem, said: "It is more important than ever that everyone in the UK is aware of the warning signs of a forced marriage. By downloading the Freedom app, developed in conjunction with the Government's Forced Marriage Unit and the Metropolitan Police, the user is just a couple of button presses away from lifesaving help. It's the 999 of apps and we urge everyone to download it, for free, today."
The Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1485 cases involving 60 different countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America last year. Of the 744 cases where the age was known, over 600 of those involved were young people under the age of 26.
If you are worried about being forced into marriage, or are worried about a friend who you think may be forced into marriage, the Forced Marriage Unit can provide confidential advice and support through its helpline and email (0207 008 0151, email [email protected]).