A recent report by the BBC highlighted the campaign launched by charity Karma Nirvana, which aims to educate schools in the UK about the dangers of forced marriages.

The charity, led by prominent campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera, identified the West Yorkshire area as a hotspot for suspected occurrences of forced marriage.

“We have identified a number of schools in the West Yorkshire area where young south Asian girls were going missing” said Sanghera, speaking at a conference in Bradford arranged to discuss the issue. During the conference, Sanghera also claimed that Leeds is believed to have the highest rate of forced marriages involving girls of school age.

Ruth Whittingham, a family solicitor from Farleys Solicitors LLP, based just the other side of the border in Blackburn, Lancashire, commented,

“It is important to remember that arranged marriages and forced marriages are two very different beasts. Arranged marriages are accepted practice in many communities, as both individuals enter into these marriages freely; this is not the case with a forced marriages.”

The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 came into force on 25th November 2008. It gives UK courts the ability to prevent forced marriages and provide recourse for those already in forced marriages.

If necessary the court can make orders for the surrender of both British and foreign passports, prevent a marriage ceremony taking place and even order the repatriation of a person who has been taken abroad against their will.

Ruth concluded,

“If you need protection from a potential forced marriage or are a third party and are worried about a potential forced marriage, we urge you to contact a solicitor as soon as possible.”

If you require the services of an experienced forced marriage solicitor, don’t hesitate to contact the lawyers at Farleys on 0845 287 0939. Alternatively, e-mail us.