60 county residents call forced marriage helpline

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Figures show that 60 Northamptonshire residents at risk of forced marriages called a national charity’s helpline for advice over the last 11 months.

The Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse, receives 6,000 calls from those in need of help every year, and 60 of the calls between January and November this year came from our county.

Chief executive of the charity, Jasvinder Sanghera, who is a survivor of a forced marriage, said: “I am tired of professionals reacting as if this is cultural and turning a blind eye for the fear of being seen as racist. This is a protection issue.”

Ms Sanghera said 400 British victims every year were brought back into the UK from abroad and that a third were aged under 17 years old, with some as young as five.

She added: “There are children in classrooms in Northampton that could be at risk of being taken abroad and being forced into marriage. We want the police, social services and teachers to think about what they can do in terms of supporting these people.”

To help tackle the problem, the charity teamed up with Northamptonshire Police to host a workshop at police headquarters in Wootton Hall, Northampton, on December 19, to provide advice about how to help people in forced marriages.

Police officers, social workers, victim support staff and teachers attended the workshop to find out what they could do to help victims in Northampton and find out about repatriation, where the government rescues British-born victims who have been sent abroad to be married, and brings them back home.