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UK initiates steps to protect, support those facing forced marriage

The government has taken action aimed at preventing violence and providing more support for victims as part of a comprehensive strategy 'a call to end violence against women and girls'.

The steps include protecting and supporting those facing forced marriage and in future consulting on whether to make forced marriage a criminal offence.

The development is significant as the National Centre for Social Research believes over 5,000 people are at risk of forced marriage each year. Just last year, there were 770 calls to the Forced Marriage Unit, signifying a 16 per cent increase compared to the corresponding period the year before that.

The problem was witnessing a study rise. The Foreign Office's dedicated unit dealt with as many as 420 cases about two years back. The number is almost three times of 152 in 2005.

The victims are more often than not compelled into a marriage to preserve "family honour", rather than allow them to form relationships with boys from other cultures or religions. Or else, they are forced into a marriage to help others move to Britain.

The problem of forced marriage is more pronounced among teenagers from Pakistan or Bangladesh, suggests a study published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Latest figures from the government's Forced Marriage Unit indicate 70 per cent of the cases involve families of Pakistani origin. Another 11 per cent are from a Bangladeshi background.
The other recent measures include: Committing £28 million of central funding for specialist services to tackle violence against women and girls until 2015.

Strengthening the law to protect victims of domestic violence and consulting on introducing a ‘Clare’s Law’  disclosure scheme;

Piloting domestic violence protection orders in three police force areas with 135 issued so far;

Introducing domestic homicide reviews so lessons can be learned and future tragedies prevented launching a consultation on how to protect the victims of stalking more effectively, including whether to introduce a specific offence of stalking;

Protecting and supporting those facing forced marriage and in future consulting on whether to make forced marriage a criminal offence; and through our teen abuse campaign, tackling negative attitudes to girls and women to prevent violence from occurring in the first place

Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone said: 'We have taken lots of practical steps to reduce the risk to women and girls who are victims of these crimes, but there is more to be done. The government's ambition is nothing less than ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

'I will also continue to use my role as the UK's international ministerial champion to raise the voices of women and girls at home and abroad. We all need to speak out against violence against women, not just today but every day of the year.'

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