Responding to Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence “Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness” Mike O’Brien former Solicitor General
Forced Marriage in the UK • “A marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties where duress is a factor.” • A Choice by Right (June 2000) • Duress can include physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional pressure
Child Protection Procedures • If a young person is under 18 years of age forced marriage is a ‘child protection’ issue • Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board have developed multi-agency procedures to help us all protect young people who have, or fear they will be, forced into marriage • Allegations/reasonable concerns must be reported to: • First Response – Staffordshire Children’s Social Care– 0800 1313126 or • Child Abuse Central Referral Unit (Police) 0300 1234455 NB In the case of an adult over the age of 18 years, report the matter to the police
Some General Principles: “One chance rule” – take it seriously, make it your problem Ensure Confidentiality – including electronic data systems Follow multi-agency procedures (SSCB) Establish contact arrangements Always think – is this child at risk? If so, ACT Follow your agencies referral procedures – make sure First Response or the Police are informed immediately
Adults • Remember adults may also be forced into marriage • Including adults with disabilities • This presentation focuses on procedures that must be followed if a child is involved • However, adults will also receive protection, help and support
An Arranged Marriage is not a child protection issue • Family take the lead in arranging match • Couples have a choice as to whether to proceed • Young People over the age of 16 years can enter into an arranged marriage in the UK providing they have the consent of both sets of parents
Why do forced marriages happen? Controlling unwanted behaviour and sexuality, particularly that of women Preventing ‘unsuitable’ relationships Peer group or family pressure Protecting perceived cultural or religious ideals which can often be misguided Attempting to strengthen family links Family honour or long-standing family commitments Ensuring land remains within the family Assisting claims for residence and citizenship Providing a carer for a disabled family member / reducing the ‘stigma’ of disability
Who is affected? • The Foreign Commonwealth Office, Forced Marriage Unit • Deal with around 300 cases per year • The majority of individuals are aged 15-24, but 30% of cases are minors. By November 08 this had risen to 39%, 14% of which were minors under 16. • Affects young women and young men (15% of cases) • Majority of cases from South Asia • This is not fully representative of the problem. Forced marriage exists in other communities (e.g. Turkish, Iranian, Somali, Faith Groups, Travellers)
Dishonouring the family Could include : • Wearing make up • Meeting young men e.g. whilst truanting • Friendships which family disapprove of • Clothing • Having mobile phone numbers on their phone which are unknown to parents • Having a sexual relationship outside marriage • Refusing or leaving the chosen ‘spouse’
So called ‘Honour’ killings In October 2002, Heshu Yunes, a 16 year-old Kurdish girl was murdered by her father because she had a boyfriend. In 2007 Arash Ghorbani-Zarin, 19, was murdered by his girl friend's father and two brothers (16 and 18) to "vindicate the family's honour"
One Chance to Save a Life • Banaz Mahmoud – killed in the name of Honour. Banaz paid the ultimate price for walking out on her arranged marriage. Brutally raped and murdered by uncle and cousins. Her body was found in a suitcase in a garden in Birmingham.
Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence can and do happen in StaffordshireHow can you help to protect these young people?
Mediation Mediation, reconciliation, and family counselling as a response to forced marriage can be extremely dangerous. There have been cases of young people being murdered by their families whilst mediation was being undertaken.
The One Chance Rule! • Take it seriously • Be prepared. Anyone can be faced with a concern about potential Forced Marriage • This could come as a direct disclosure: verbal or in the form of a note • Sometimes, the young person does not tell, but his/her friend or sibling does • Believe the person. Telling you is a life changing decision • Take them to a room where there is privacy & they cannot be overheard or seen • See the Young Person on their own if possible
The One Chance Rule! Cont. • If you aren’t in a position to be able to talk to the person (e.g. because you work on the reception desk) find someone appropriate (e.g. Designated Person for Child Protection) who can, without delay! • Make sure that the young person is comfortable with whoever you suggest – and check this before disclosing the allegation to your colleague • Don’t ask them to come back later – remember ‘One Chance’ • Don’t tell friends and colleagues – the information may get into the victim’s community. This could put him/her at risk of severe harm. • Secure your records and be wary of electronic recording systems
Find out: • Why he/she feels at risk e.g. • Family history of forced marriage (siblings, cousins) • Being pulled out of education • Threats • Being subjected to violence • Being pregnant • Having a girlfriend/boyfriend that parents don’t approve of • Sexuality – Gay or Lesbian • Imminent and unanticipated holiday overseas • Recent family involvement with the community ‘marriage broker’
Always Record • Date of disclosure • Details of third party disclosing if relevant • Name of person under threat • Address • Nationality • Age • Date and place of birth • Full details of allegation/fears • Names and address(es) of parents/carers • School/College/Work details • Passport details/driving licence number – if known THIS INFORMATION IS SENSITIVE AND CONFIDENTIAL. SECURE IT.
Good Practice • Ask how the young person can be contacted • If it is by mobile phone, establish a code word to ensure that the agency worker dealing with matter is speaking to right person • Consider risks of interception to emails, text messages, post • Consider arranging ‘safe’ places to meet, e.g. public places such as a library • Consider contact via a trusted third party chosen by young person
Good Practice • If young person does not require immediate protection, who can they go to in case of emergency? • Give young person contact number for Forced Marriage Unit and details of local support agencies • Advise them not to travel overseas if it can be avoided • Recommend he/she gives copies of important documents such as passport and birth certificate to trusted friend
Good Practice cont. • Don’t send them away if you think they are at risk. Contact the Police Child Abuse Central Referral Unit 0300 1234455 and wait for their arrival • If the risk is imminent, ring 999 • Remember only the Police can take a young person into immediate protection under Police Protection Powers
“Missing Persons” • Be wary of people who are seeking information about the whereabouts of a person – even if they are from a statutory agency • You may be shown photos, posters, leaflets – begging for information for the distraught parents and family • Remember there may be sinister motives for the campaign (e.g. Bounty Hunters) • Do not offer any assistance in these cases – including displaying posters.
“Missing Persons” cont. • Some people have to hide from their families and communities due to the threat of violence • If you have information, contact the police who should know if the case is genuine, and how to progress it safely • Remember community networks are deep and extensive so beware of using colleagues as interpreters, or local taxi firms to take the young person to a police station or place of safety
Remember: General Principles: “One chance rule” – take it seriously, make it your problem Ensure Confidentiality – including electronic data systems Follow multi-agency Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Establish contact arrangements Always think – is this child at risk? If so, ACT
Under 18 years, you must: Follow your agencies referral procedures – • make sure First Response (Staffordshire Children’s Social Care) or the Police are informed immediately • If child resident in Stoke, the Child Abuse Central Referral Unit of the Police covers both Authorities 0300 1234455
One Chance to Save a Life • Rukhsana Naz, from Normanton, Derbyshire, wanted to divorce her husband, whom she had seen only twice since her marriage when she was 15, and marry her boyfriend. • But her mother and brother considered she had "brought shame on her family" and killed her. • Rukhsana was 19 years old and 28 weeks pregnant when she was restrained by her mother, and strangled to death by her brother
Do you need further information? Staffordshire SSCB Procedures are on the following website: www.staffsscb.org.uk Staffordshire ‘First Response’ referral team: 0800 1313126 Stoke on Trent Children’s Services referrals – Advice and Access team 01782 235100 Foreign Commonwealth Office – Forced Marriage Unit – 020 7008 0151 Email email@example.com Website: www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/nationals/forced-marriage-unit/
Resources • Leaflets, information and guidance for victims, survivors and practitioners can be found at: www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/nationals/forced-marriage-unit/ • Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 – can be accessed from the ‘useful links’ menu on the above website • Resources for schools can be found on the Every Child Matters website www.everychildmatters.gov.uk