We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from Colin Peak, NSPCC Regional Head of Service, London and South East. Ed
For most children the summer holidays equal fun and spending time with their family. But for some young people the long break is when they are most at risk of being taken abroad and forced into a marriage.
In 2016/17, Childline provided 205 counselling sessions to girls as young as 13 about forced marriage – a 12 per cent increase from 2015/16. The same year, there were 6,099 visits to the Childline forced marriage page.
Children told counsellors they were frightened of being taken out of the country for marriage and reported emotional abuse by their parents, because they believe resisting the marriage would bring shame and dishonour on their family.
Tricked into marriage
In some instances children may have been told that they are going on a normal holiday and do not realise that they are heading to their wedding day with a complete stranger.
Once they are abroad they may find themselves isolated and find it difficult to raise the alarm and halt the marriage.
An abuse of human rights
No child should be forced into marriage and we must be clear that, regardless of cultural expectations, this is a crime and an abuse of human rights.
The secretive nature of forced marriage combined with feelings of loyalty to family and community can mean it is difficult to grasp the true scale of the problem.
Speak up now
To help us break the cycle the NSPCC is urging anyone – including potential victims – to speak up, so that we can step in and stop a child being bound into something that they would never ask for.
Adults can contact the NSPCC helpline, 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 so they can be given support and measures can be taken to stop them from being forced into marriage.
See the Childline Website for more information.