Women disowned: Forced marriage in the UK
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Nabillah’s story has a happy ending, but many women are not so lucky. But how far is it acceptable for the authorities to intervene in personal family situations?

“Forced marriage is a very clear abuse of human rights” explains Olaf Henricson-Bell, Joint Head of the Forced Marriage Unit, an initiative in partnership with the Home Office.

“We have no qualms about intervening. This is about people having their lives taken over for them. We’re talking about people becoming servants in their own homes, and about sustained sexual and physical abuse.”

Set in up 2005, the FMU receives approximately 1,600 reports of forced marriages every year, and caseworkers handle more than 400 individual cases.

Olaf says, “There are so many cases cut across international boundaries that in extreme cases we have to rescue people from overseas. In the UK we have clear strategies – we train police and social services and we have in-house training packages available online. We have the infrastructure to deal with forced marriage that a lot of other countries do not have.”


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