After the success of our Free 2 Choose project last year Act On Info are very proud that this year’s project has been bigger and better than ever. Funded by the Forced Marriage Unit of the government, Free 2 Choose 2014 was a collaborative project between Act On Info, Inspire Safer Futures (Jo Lane), charity Stockport Without Abuse, and Sameem Ali, a Manchester City Councillor and a forced marriage survivor.
Forced Marriage is a vitally important topic that affects many young people in this and other countries. Young people have always been at the heart of what we do and we believe they need to able to make informed choices about their own lives and not be forced or coerced into situations beyond their control.
But before we tell you about the project, we must tell you why we got involved in this vital work. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Article 16: A marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both people. The two people involved should feel that they have a choice. You have a right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.
With a forced marriage, one or both of the people involved are forced into a marriage against their will and without their active consent. In some cases, people may be taken abroad without knowing that they are to be married. When they arrive in abroad their passports may be taken to stop them returning home. Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights, a form of domestic violence and sometimes child abuse.
When we start talking about forced marriage, people think we are just using a different phrase for arranged marriage. But they are not the same thing – so why is arranged marriage different? In an arranged marriage, families take a leading role in choosing and introducing the marriage partners. Both the bride and groom are part of the decision process and they have a choice whether or not to marry the person their family has found for them. In a forced marriage, either the bride or groom (or possibly both) aren’t given any choice.
People are often reluctant to discuss forced marriage because they mistakenly believe that it is a religious issue. The fact is that none of the sacred scriptures condone forced marriage. It is not a religious or cultural issue it is an issue of human rights and child protection.
If you or someone you know is at risk of forced marriage please contact the Forced Marriage Unit on: 020 7008 0151, from overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151, out of hours: 020 7008 1500.
If you are interested in getting more details about forced marriage or our Free 2 Choose project in schools, continue to read our blogs or contact us using our enquiry form .