Sadly, this time of year always sees an increase in incidences of Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage, as families of young female UK residents are often taken abroad during their Summer holidays.
Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will. A forced marriage differs from an arranged marriage, in which both parties consent to the assistance of their parents or a third party (such as a matchmaker) in identifying a spouse.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes forcing someone to marry (including abroad) a criminal offence in England, Scotland and Wales.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common.
In 2003, The Female Genital Mutilation Act made it an offence for FGM to be performed on UK nationals or UK permanent residents of any age, anywhere in the world, carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and a fine. This meant that it was illegal for UK nationals or permanent residents to perform or aid FGM abroad, regardless of whether the laws of that country permitted it.
However, it is thought that between 500 and 2000 young female UK residents are taken abroad for FGM during their summer holidays, despite it being made illegal. According to the Nottingham Community FGM Steering Group, at least 200 cases of FGM were reported in Nottingham in 2015, and yet Project Azure (the Metropolitan Police Group responsible for managing cases of FGM) has carried out only 122 interventions since 2008.
Karma Nirvana is an award-winning charity that supports victims of Honour Based Abuse and Forced Marriage.
The organisation was founded in 1993 by a survivor, Jasvinder Sanghera CBE who escaped a forced marriage by running away from her home in Derby at 16 years old. She was disowned by her family and shunned by her community.
Today Karma Nirvana operate a national helpline that has helped thousands of victims. The helpline receives between 700 – 800 calls per month from victims and professionals seeking advice on best practice. The charity is dedicated to helping victims in immediate danger as well as preventing future cases through awareness raising and training. The helpline is available on 0800 5999247 and the website can be accessed here.
Equation delivers regular training on forced marriage and honour based abuse and FGM. See our current training options here.