New West Midlands Helpline For Forced Marriage Victims

13 June 2019, 06:00

Two Wedding Rings.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner will launch a new helpline to support victims of forced marriage and honour based abuse across the region

David Jamieson has provided £47,200 to fund the project, which will offer confidential advice to victims and survivors 24 hours a day.

A forced marriage is a criminal offence in the UK and takes place against someone's will. Emotional, physical or financial pressure may be used to force the victim to marry, often by their family.

Honour Based Abuse is a violence crime which includes patterns of coercive behaviour which can often be perpetrated by family members. This practise is used to control the victim's behaviour and 'protect' cultural or religious beliefs. Abuse can include serious offences such as murder, rape or false imprisonment.

The helpline has been launched as West Midlands Police sees the number of recorded Forced Marriages increase from 7 in 2011 to 35 in 2018.

The number of recorded Honour Based Abuse crimes has gone from 52 in 2011 to 182 in 2018.

But it's thought these statistics might only be the tip of the iceberg. In 2018, the Home Office's Forced Marriage Unit recorded over 1,764 cases in the UK.

Raj Holness, a survivor of two attempted Forced Marriages and Founder & Director of Breaking the Silence (BTSUK) added:"As a survivor of two attempted forced marriages, I fully support the introduction of this 24-hour helpline. "My mission it to give a voice back to the most vulnerable women in society and use my experiences as a platform to encourage other women to come forward."