Derby hosts national conference to look at ways of tackling forced marriages

DERBY is to host the first ever national conference examining forced marriage.

Criminal justice experts from across the UK are due in the city to discuss how police and community safety partners can increase protection to vulnerable women and encourage more victims to seek help.

Keynote speakers at the one-day seminar include Derbyshire’s Chief Constable, Mick Creedon, and family lawyer Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, who will present findings from a Forced Marriage Commissioning Report.

Hosted by the Derby-based marriage campaign charity Karma Nirvana, the event takes place at Derby’s Council House on Tuesday and marks the forthcoming change in legislation, due next month, which will make Forced Marriage a criminal offence.

The conference is aimed at exploring the national legislative changes due to take effect and ensuring that all involved are fully prepared to implement them.

It will also discuss examples of good practice in supporting victims and effective partnership working strategies.

Alan Charles, Derbyshire’s police and crime commissioner, said: “I’m pleased to see Derbyshire at the forefront of national efforts to improve the response we provide to victims of forced marriage.

“Too many victims suffer in fear and silence and it’s our duty to give them the courage they need to come forward so this abhorrent behaviour is no longer suppressed in our communities.

“Forced marriage is insupportable and I’m pleased that the new legislation reflects the gravity with which it needs to be viewed.

“Victims are exposed to the same level of fear, turmoil and degradation as victims of domestic abuse and just because the issue is so closely linked to family, cultural or religious customs or traditions it doesn’t mean society has to sit by and let it happen.

“It’s time that every community rejected this kind of treatment of vulnerable young women and the work that we will jointly carry out will not only have tougher repercussions on perpetrators, it will also ensure those at risk are identified quickly, long before they face any physical danger.”

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is a survivor of forced marriage and founder and chief executive of Karma Nirvana.

She said: “I’m delighted to be co-hosting the first national conference on forced marriage, where we will be talking about its forthcoming criminalisation.

“The change in the legislation which will make forced marriage a specific offence is the result of a 10 year campaign – which is welcome.

“We are pleased to have brought together so many national leaders with diverse perspectives, experiences and responsibilities.

“It is so important that statutory organisations such as the police, PCCs and the criminal justice service work in partnership with non-statutory support organisations to provide a sensitive and holistic service to victims.”

From next month, parents who force their children to marry in England and Wales could be jailed.


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