The number of people seeking help about forced marriage has risen yet again in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last year.
Official government figures have revealed that the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) received 152 calls and emails from people in our region concerned about a forced marriage over the course of 2017.
That’s up from 131 similar cases the year before and 109 in 2015.
As well as people directly involved in a possible forced marriage, this figure may also include people seeking help for someone they know.
A marriage is considered forced when one or both parties do not consent to the marriage and violence, threats, or any other form of coercion is involved.
Across the UK, the FMU gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,220 cases in 2017 via its public helpline and email inbox.
That’s a decrease compared to the 1,428 cases seen in 2016.
However, forced marriage is a hidden crime, and the Home Office is quick to point out this drop does not represent a decrease in prevalence of forced marriage in the UK.
These statistics only represent cases that have been reported to the FMU so do not reflect the full scale of the abuse.
Forced marriage is not a problem specific to one country or culture and the FMU has dealt with cases from more than 90 countries since its inception in 2005.
Last year, most of the cases were related to Pakistan (37%) and a large number were linked to Bangladesh (11%).
However, one in 10 cases saw the potential or actual forced marriage taking place entirely within the UK.
Almost half of cases involved victims that were minors under the age of 18 (47%) and in at least 186 instances the victim was under the age of 16.
Meanwhile, the majority of cases - 930 or 78% - involved women and girls, while 256 cases (21%) involved men and boys.