British girls as young as nine are being rescued from forced marriages.

Jasvinder Sanghera is campaigning to help young girls escape forced marriage

No accurate figures exist to show how many children are affected in the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], but pupils are regularly disappearing from school.
In many cases, they are kept prisoner in their own homes before being flown abroad and forced to marry.
Jasvinder Sanghera, who founded [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] to help victims, said: "These young girls are very isolated, they only know the environment they've been brought up in, they've been conditioned - groomed almost - to only know this way of life.
"Their partners have been chosen for them and that process starts from eight-years-old."

Forced Marriage

    • More than 2,000 children went missing from school last year
    • These were in areas identified as high risk by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit
    • The unit dealt with 1,300 cases in the first nine months of 2008
    • A third of these cases involved under 18s

Campaigners also fear these figures only reveal the tip of the iceberg as forced marriage is so under-reported.
However, there are new laws which give court powers to issue injunctions preventing someone being forced into marriage.
This legislation was used by a judge in the case of the Dr Humayra Abedin who was held captive by her family in [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
But Ms Sanghera warns underage girls at risk of kidnap, rape and violence, rarely get the support they need.
Often this is because schools are reluctant to intervene for fear of being accused of racism.
Her own family chose a husband for her when she was eight and at 14-years-old she was told she would marry him.
She said: "I watched my sisters taken out of school to marry men they had only seen in photographs and come back to school as somebody's wife.
"I said no and I was taken out of school and kept at home until I agreed to the marriage."

Dr Humayra Abedin

When she ran away from home to avoid the marriage, her parents disowned her because she had dishonoured the man she had been promised to.
Years later, when she discovered her sister had committed suicide to escape an abusive marriage, she dedicated her life to helping others.
She said: "If a young person contacts us, we first give them the reassurance that our loyalty is to them not their family.
"We want to keep them safe, we'll talk to them, put them in touch with a survivor, we'll be their voice with agencies that can help."
*The Forced Marriage Unit can be contacted on 0207 008 0151 or 0044 20 7008 0151 if you are overseas.

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