Kamran*, aged 27, was beaten and starved by his family when he refused to enter a forced marriage – a situation which is now tragically becoming increasingly common for men, the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit has revealed.
There has been an increase in reports of men being forced into marriage over the last two years, according to figures released today by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU). Last year the FMU, a joint-initiative between the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office, received over 220 emails and calls to its helpline about suspected forced marriages involving male victims – up from 134 in 2008, an increase of 65 per cent**. With the summer holidays approaching, traditionally a time when incidents increase, the FMU is warning professionals who work with young people to be alert and act on any concerns they may have.
Jeremy Browne, Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for Consular Policy, said:
“Although this continues to be an issue affecting both men and women, people often don’t realise that men can be victims of forced marriage too. 14%** of the cases handled by the Forced Marriage Unit last year involved men and it’s a problem we are determined to raise awareness about and help communities to address.
“Boys and men who are forced into marriage find it harder to ask for help than women, but we are urging males affected by forced marriage to speak out and seek the help that is available to them.
“Of course women make up the majority of forced marriage victims and over 1,400 reports of women facing this abuse were dealt with by the Unit last year. Any professionals working with young people who suspect that a forced marriage could take place should contact the Forced Marriage Unit for advice.”
James Brokenshire, Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention, said:
“Forced marriage is a form of domestic abuse and will not be tolerated. These figures are proof that both men and women are victims of forced marriage so it’s vitally important that we encourage those who work with young people to contact the Forced Marriage Unit if they have any concerns, and that victims who have been affected come forward and get the help they need.”
Lynne Featherstone, Equalities Minister said:
“When young men are forced into marrying women it can be because they are gay or bisexual, or their families suspect that they are. This kind of abuse must not be tolerated.
“Adults working with young people need to be alert to young men who may be vulnerable to forced marriage, as well as women, and report any concerns to the Forced Marriage Unit.”
While the majority of victims are women, men may be forced into marriage for a variety of reasons, some of which relate to family commitments and expectations, securing visas or the desire to control behaviour and protect a family’s reputation. The FMU has already received over 80*** reports of men being forced into marriage so far this year and has seen a number of cases linked to sexuality. This has included male victims being forced to marry women because their families know or suspect they are gay or bisexual.
Tim Sigsworth, Chief Executive of the Albert Kennedy Trust, has seen first hand the impact that forced marriage can have on young men: “The impact for many young gay and bisexual men facing a forced marriage is twofold. They not only experience a sense of loss from the rejection or ejection by their family and possibly community, but they may also be struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientation without the love, support and guidance which parents may have offered them in other areas of their lives.”
Male and female victims of forced marriage, or others acting on their behalf, can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. An order can be used to prevent someone being forced into marriage or to protect a person where a marriage has already taken place. People can be arrested if they do not comply with the orders. Since coming into force in November 2008, over 150 orders have been taken out.
For more information please contact 020 7478 7840
To bid for interviews with:
• Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Minister Jeremy Browne please contact the FCO Newsdesk on 020 7008 3100
• Home Office Ministers James Brokenshire or Lynne Featherstone please contact the HO Newsdesk on 0207 035 3535