Monday, February 04, 2008

Men Forced to Marry

Big Ben & the houses of Parliament

From the BBC:

UK- The government has agreed to look into funding the UK's first male-only refuge for victims of forced marriage. It has emerged that 15% of the people who seek help about being forced into wedlock are men or boys.

A man taken to Pakistan as a child and forcibly engaged to his five-year-old cousin has called for a men's refuge. Foreign Office minister Meg Munn said authorities must talk to those affected to "listen to their experiences" and "learn directly from them." She said: "Generally people expect men to be able to look after themselves, to manage situations, so men subject to domestic violence, men subject to forced marriage are likely to find it much, much more difficult." She added "there could well be" a need for a male shelter.

The British High Commission in Pakistan said that the issue of boys and men being forced is a problem that it is aware of. Spokesman Theepan Selparatnum said: "Sixty per cent of our case load is forced marriage work and between 10 to 15% of that are male. Our workload is increasing yearly and that's probably attributed to increased publicity and increased knowledge of what we can do."

'Abducted' Imran Rehman, from Derby, said his family took some extreme measures to get him back in line when he resisted the marriage, explaining that he was abducted and taken to Pakistan. He said a relative shackled his legs together and he was imprisoned for 15 days.

Mr Rehman has now urged the government to take action. "What I'm calling on the government to do would be set up a male refuge," he told BBC 5 Live. He went on: "There are no male refuges at all for Asian men. We have 165 women's refuges. What about the men? "We know it's happening, and I have a caseload of 36 men. We definitely require male refuge."

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, told BBC Radio 5 Live a male refuge was a good idea. "We have even heard of bounty hunters chasing people," he said. "It exists, all these things, so I think people do need solid support."

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