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Government hotline established for forced marriage victims: CEN 4.18.08 p 4. April 18, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Uncategorized.

Nigel McCullochThe Home Office has established a telephone hotline for victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence. The telephone “Honour Network” will be run by the charity Karma Nirvana, an Asian men and women’s project based in Derby, and is one of the first government programmes arising from the passage of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act.

Scheduled to be implemented this autumn, the Act gives courts the power to issue Forced Marriage Protection Orders to stop forcible marriage and in cases where the marriage has already taken place, the courts will have the power to issue civil protection orders and remove the victim from the household.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said the helpline “run by survivors, for survivors, is a big step in the fight to raise awareness of the issues of forced marriage and honour-based violence and is crucial in giving victims across the country the confidence to come forward.”

The extent of forcible marriage among Britain’s Asian community “remains unknown,” the minister said on April 11, and “much of the problem stays underground. We are determined across Government to continue engaging with local communities and taking action to protect victims to put an end to this appalling practice.”

Speaking for the Church of England during the debate last year on the Forced Marriage Act, the Bishop of Manchester stated the bishops’ bench welcomed the new laws.

“I know from heart-rending stories in Manchester that forced marriages happen and that the victims of that wholly unacceptable practice,” Bishop Nigel McCulloch (pictured) said, “need legislative protection.”

“Forced marriage is not only an abuse of human rights; it is also in faith terms a complete and utter contradiction,” he argued.

Marriage was “by definition a voluntary union for life between one woman and one man to the exclusion of all others,” the bishop said and was “an honourable estate, instituted of God … signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church.”

Scripture, Church tradition and the teachings of the Church of England “all emphasise that that mystical union is a sign of love that is freely given, not forced. That is why the essence of the Church of England marriage service is the public exchange of vows.”

“The giving of consent is its central and defining feature. Our marriage law in this country is shaped by that Christian understanding and the principle of consent. That is why it is wholly against our culture and legal framework to accept forced marriage that so offends that principle of consent, especially in sexual relations,” Bishop McCulloch said.

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