Warning signs of forced marriage

The British government hopes new guidelines will help identify women and girls who are being forced into unions against their will.

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A report released Thursday in Britain paints a disturbing portrait of thousands of young British women from immigrant families being forced into marriage (click here to read the report). The women – in some cases, girls – are sent back to rural backwaters in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and other countries to be married off.

Along with pointing out the scope of the problem – at least 5,000 cases of forced marriage in Britain last year, and probably thousands more – the report also includes guidelines for spotting signs of forced marriage for teachers, police, and community leaders. According to Britain's Department for Children, Schools, and Families, the following clues might indicate a less-than-voluntary union:

  • Extended absence from school or work
  • A history of siblings leaving education to marry early
  • Parental control of income
  • Evidence of self-harm
  • Evidence of family disputes or running away from home.

To read the Monitor's story on the issue, click here.

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