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Shock toll of forced marriage

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Shock figures today reveal the devastating impact of forced marriages and honour-based violence on women across West Yorkshire.

Police have received 108 reports of forced marriage and 113 reports of honour-based violence from across the region in just one year.

But West Yorkshire Police have warned these figures are just the tip of the iceberg because victims suffer in silence.

Charity Karma Nirvana has received 69 calls from victims in Leeds in just four months.

A new campaign has been launched in Leeds by police to raise awareness of forced marriage, which will become a crime from June 16.

Under new legislation those found guilty of forced marriage can be jailed for up to seven years.

Courts have already stopped 16 young women in the Leeds district from being forced into marriage over the last year.

They are all currently protected by police and other agencies under forced marriage protection orders, which were introduced in 2009 to help victims.

The orders, which are similar to antisocial behaviour orders, are granted by a county court judge and they can be used to stop families taking daughters abroad to be married against their will.

West Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable John Robins said: “Forced marriage is a crime where one or both spouses do not, or cannot, consent to the marriage and duress is involved. This can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.

“But let me make it really clear that this is not the same as an ‘arranged marriage’ which is a totally legal practice and involves the consent of both spouses.

“Someone forced to marry may find it very difficult to take action to prevent it happening or initiate action to end a forced marriage.

“They may be subjected to sexual and ongoing domestic abuse, and in some cases, suffer violence and abuse from extended family members.

“These victims can end up feeling trapped in a relationship through violence and abuse.”

* For more information about the campaign visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/forcedmarriage.

To report a suspected offence contact Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111 or contact West Yorkshire Police on 101.

 

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