Saturday, June 09, 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he wants forced marriage to be made illegal. It was the main news item on Newsround at 3.25pm yesterday afternoon. Fiona Dwyer of Women's Aid talked to Nel about the issues involved.


Nel: Fiona Dwyer works for Women's Aid which supports people who are affected by forced marriages. Fiona, thank you for joining us. I want to first know: what is the difference between a 'forced marriage' and an 'arranged marriage'?

Fiona: Well with an arranged marriage it's where your parents or your relatives think that they've found someone who would be perfect for you to marry, and then you meet this person and you think "Oh great," and you want to get married. Whereas a forced marriage is where your parents or your family - they bully you either physically or emotionally - and force you into getting married. So the main difference between the two is you have a choice with an arranged marriage.

Nel: Whereas a forced marriage you just don't have that choice. And what are the laws that are going to be coming in next year? Will they offer more protection for victims of forced marriages?

Fiona: Well they should do, but - and we are very happy that the Government is against forced marriages - but we're also worried that because so many people don't tell at the moment, that even more people won't, because they're afraid that their families will go to prison.

Nel: So you're worried, as other charities are as well, that because the laws are stricter that it will mean that less victims come forward?

Fiona: Yes, there is a worry that many more young people - they won't tell because they're worried that their families will get into trouble with the police.

Nel: OK. And what should someone do if they think that their friend or someone they know is being forced into a marriage?

Fiona: Well, if they're worried they should contact the police, or they should contact a helpline like the NSPCC, or they should talk to one of their teachers - but also letting them know that they shouldn't tell the family.

Nel: But no matter what they should talk to somebody?

Fiona: They should definitely talk to someone. That's the most important way to get support.

Nel: OK, Fiona, thank you so much for joining me today.

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