First National Forced Marriage Helpline Launched

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A NEW national helpline for victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence, part-funded by the Forced Marriage Unit, has been launched today by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker.

The ‘Honour Network’, run by the Derby-based charity Karma Nirvana is a dedicated forced marriage and honour-based violence helpline, staffed by survivors offering emotional and practical support.

The launch, in conjunction with the Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, will include speakers from Karma Nirvana, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said the helpline was a “big step” is creating awareness about forced marriages and honour-based violence.

He said: “This helpline run by survivors, for survivors, is a big step in the fight to raise awareness of the issues of forced marriage and honour-based violence and is crucial in giving victims across the country the confidence to come forward.

“We recognise that the scale of these issues remains unknown and much of the problem stays underground. We are determined across Government to continue engaging with local communities and taking action to protect victims to put an end to this appalling practice.”

The joint Foreign and Commonwealth/Home Office Forced Marriage Unit, which was was set up in 2005, handles 5000 enquiries and up to 400 cases per year.

Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of refuge Karma Nirvana which deals with 15 new cases each week, said: “The Honour Network is about reclaiming the word honour. It’s designed for victims, survivors or potential victims of honour based crimes to reassure them they are victims not perpetrators.

The Network is designed to identify survivors to help support each other. The helpline will be manned by survivors themselves helping people take a stand against these crimes.”

The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act is set to be implemented in the autumn which will allow courts to make orders to prevent forced marriages and protect victims.

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