The government’s Forced Marriage Unit provided advice and support in cases of forced marriage involving 60 countries last year, according to new figures from the department.
The countries included India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as such African nations as Somalia, Nigeria, the Gambia and Morocco. Middle Eastern countries featured in the statistics include Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq and Iran.
The Unit dealt with 1,485 cases during the year.
Analysis of the figure reveals that an overwhelming majority – 82 per cent – of the victims are female, and most are aged between 16 and 25 years. However, victims ranged widely in age, from 71 at the upper end to just two.
The unit defines a forced marriage as “…where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.”
Meanwhile, the Forced Marriage Unit has part-funded the development of a free iPhone app designed to provide information on forced marriage rights and possible sources of help.
The app, which is designed to look like a game, was developed by the Freedom Charity, which focuses on child abuse prevention.
Charity co-founder and magistrate Anita Prem said:
“It is more important than ever that everyone in the UK is aware of the warning signs of a forced marriage. By downloading the Freedom app, developed in conjunction with the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit and the Metropolitan Police, the user is just a couple of button presses away from life saving help. It’s the 999 of apps and we urge everyone to download it, for free, today.”