Charity tackling forced marriage in Redbridge

Redbridge is being targeted by a charity campaigning against forced marriage.

Women’s charity the Jan Trust is speaking in schools in the borough and holding workshops and seminars to help women in forced marriages get out and show young women how to prevent them.

Project manager Sajda Mughal said it is a huge issue in the borough.

She said: “Redbridge has a large Asian population so, statistically, forced marriages are more common.

“There’s a huge amount of misinformation around them and we try to show people that it’s not a religious practice, it’s not a cultural practice that needs to be carried on, it’s a violation of a woman’s human rights.”

According to Foreign Office statistics, forced marriages are most common in Pakistani and Bangaladeshi communities, although cases have been recorded in many countries, including Nigeria and Iraq.

Most victims are young women and girls aged between 18 and 21, although some are much younger. 31 per cent of victims are male.

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Unlike an arranged marriage, where people allow relatives or friends to suggest a potential match, at least one partner does not consent to a forced marriage.

Ms Mughal said the experience has a terrible impact on affected women.

She said: “A girl can be taken out of school to a country that she’s never been before. She may be abused by her husband and his family.

“It causes depression and forced marriage is one of the factors that makes the suicide rate among Asian women so high.”

The Jan Trust hopes that educating young women about forced marriage will help them combat the issue in their communities.

Wanstead High and King Solomon School were visited by the trust at the end of May and the charity is planning visits to other Redbridge schools in the autumn term.

The Jan Trust, based in Wood Green, is also targeting Newham and Waltham Forest.