Back in the day we had names for ‘forced marriage’ that were actually meaningful. Rape and slave were two of them. Pedophilia was another. Of course, the term ‘forced marriage’ is an oxymoron to us in the West and for me actually causes a kind of cognitive dissonance as of course, marriage by definition is a consensual contract between two adults. It cannot be forced or with a child by very definition.
By Poonam Taneja BBC Asian Network
A five-year-old girl is thought to have become the UK’s youngest victim of forced marriage.
She was one of 400 children to receive assistance from the government’s Forced Marriage Unit in the last year.
The figures have emerged as the public consultation into criminalising forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland comes to an end.
Amy Cumming, joint head of the Forced Marriage Unit, said 29% of the cases it dealt with last year involved minors.
“The youngest of these was actually five years old, so there are children involved in the practice across the school age range,” she said.
To protect the child, the authorities have not disclosed details of the case or where the marriage took place.
But the case comes as no surprise to the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), which deals with more than 100 cases of forced marriage a year.
“We have had clients who are in their very early teens, 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds, the youngest case we had was nine years old,” said IKWRO campaigns officer Fionnuala Murphy.
Now the consultation on forced marriage has come to an end, IKWROs hope it will become a criminal offence.
“Our organisation is pro-criminalisation because we believe that it will empower victims to know that this is a crime, to stand up to their parents and to stand up for their own rights and it will enable them to come forward and seek help and say what’s happening to me is wrong.”