Black Velvet Alannah Myles
21 June 2011, 06:00
Northamptonshire Police are hosting an event today (Tuesday June 21st) to help raise awareness of honour based violence and forced marriages in Britain.
The meeting will be held at Northamptonshire Police headquarters at 2pm, on behalf of the charity Karma Nirvana, who held their very first roadshow at the same location last year. The campaigning charity supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour based abuse.
Campaigners will address professionals from the police, domestic violence teams, child protection bodies, health workers, schools, social workers and charities on the issues, the law, and what they can do to save lives. Attendees will also hear the compelling account of a survivor.
More than a dozen towns and cities are hosting a series of roadshows over three months - and in that time another three victims may have been killed.
All will be claimed by the scourge of forced marriages, a problem that results in at least 12 ‘honour’ killings each year, and countless suicides.
In Northamptonshire alone, the Domestic Abuse Unit which was formed in 2008 has actively managed and safeguarded over 96 victims (not including the children who accompany them).
DC Andrea Hefford, from the Force’s Public Protection Team, said:
“The number of reports we receive is increasing and we have had a good number of successful outcomes including convictions.”
Hundreds of young women and men are rescued from abroad annually, and thousands desperate for help call specialist advice lines.
Many are taken from their schools at this time of year - and never return following the holidays.
Yet many in the communities where it occurs are not prepared to admit anything is wrong - and most people in the wider population have not the faintest idea it is happening.
That is why a charity specialising in the field, Karma Nirvana, is staging the ambitious series of talk-ins across the UK.
Karma Nirvana’s Honour Network helpline takes about 5,000 calls a year - the youngest caller has been aged eight, and the largest age group is between 12 and 21.
“It is not a cultural problem, it is abuse,” says Jasvinder, whose campaign has support of the government and who has been consulted by Prime Minister David Cameron.
“The sooner people start to regard forced marriage in the same way they do domestic violence the better it will be for those affected by it.”
Critical to the success of the roadshows will be the testimony of a courageous group of survivors, volunteers who will talk of their experiences to the thousands of delegates around the country.
Jasvinder, 45, who survived similar experiences at the age of 16, said: “Their stories can be both harrowing and inspiring, but always very moving”.
The roadshows will also explain the workings of the Forced Marriage Act, which offers protection to those at risk - often preventing them from being taken out of the country. Last year, about 400 people were repatriated to the UK after being taken away against their will.