Rise in calls about forced marriage

CALLS to an abuse helpline have gone up since legislation was passed concerning forced marriages in Scotland.

Around 50 callers, six of them men, have called the Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline since the Forced Marriage etc (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act came into force in Scotland on November 28 last year.

Seven of the calls were from people who were calling relating distinctively to forced marriage and of those two were from men who were undergoing stress and anxiety relating to a forced marriage.

The number shows a significant increase in the number of calls taken from people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds before the law was introduced.

And the advice sought was specifically about being forced into a marriage or about their legal rights, fear of repercussions from family members and situations where families have withheld passports or marriage papers from women.

Liz Kelly, head of training at the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline, said: “Since the introduction of the new legislation at the end of last year, there’s been a marked increase in the number of calls from women and men who identified themselves as being from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and we’ve actually had seven calls from people who are currently experiencing the trauma of being forced into a marriage.

“Many of the callers requested advice relating to their current situation where they fear being forced into a marriage while others requested information on their legal stance and tights, how to get passports or marriage papers back from family members who were with-holding them or what to do when asked to go abroad.

“Even though the legislation is still in its early stages, there’s definitely a pattern emerging which suggests that both men and women that are being forced into marriage or are from black and minority ethnic have seen or heard about the new legislation and are contacting the helpline”.