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 Save Your Rights News Release
 
The first public meeting called by Save Your Rights, the organisation campaigning to end forced marriages attracted 70 people. the meeting in (11 April 2009 Saturday 3:15PM, Davenant Youth Centre) Whitechapel, East London was addressed by Dr Nazia Khanum OBE of independent consultancy Equality in Diversity. Dr Khanum shared the findings from her research study “Forced marriage, family cohesion and community engagement: national learning through a case study of Luton."

As soon as I started conducting this piece of research in 2006, it became clear to me that I was dealing with one of the most sensitive subjects, the actual scale and complexity of which will probably never be known. The Government’s Forced Marriage Unit deals with 250-300 cases per year. These are the most difficult cases, representing the tip of the iceberg. Many more – perhaps several thousand – are not reported", she told the meeting. Her report highlights the important role played by local community support groups. Victims and their friends and supporters are reluctant to approach statutory agencies and the larger, national charities which in their eyes have semi-official status. Instead, they go to local community support groups which they believe will understand their cultural perspective.

Parents who force their children to marry often justify their behaviour as protecting their children, building stronger families and preserving cultural or religious traditions. Dr Khanum said “Forced marriage is not a religious issue; every major faith condemns it and freely given consent is a prerequisite of Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh marriages. This is where campaigning groups involved with forced marriage such as Save Your Rights (SYR) need to be supported.

Dr Khanum welcomed the action plan by Government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), “but despite the excellent work, support services still lack awareness of these national initiatives and guidance”, she said . Dr Khanum stressed the need for all support services to become engaged, so that there is a consistent approach to the handling of current cases. She told the meeting that forced marriage has to be tackled within the wider context of evolving relationships between men and women, and between parents and children, across all communities, to build “a culture of common human rights”.

Nick Pandya, journalist and psychodynamic counsellor, spoke about the damaging legacy that distressed and depressed parents in forced relationships bestow on their children. Many of them typically grow up to be insecure, depressed and emotionally withdrawn adults, with low self-esteem. 

Anyone interested in supporting this multi-faith, multi-cultural campaigning organisation to end forced marriages contact: Save Your Rights (SYR) Email: info@saveyourrights.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Call/Text: +44 (0) 7988 841 228 www.saveyourrights.org (For help and advice help@saveyourrights.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).
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