Schools across South Yorkshire are being urged to take part in a pilot scheme that is dedicated to tackling forced marriage.
Alex Jones, the founder of ‘In Memory of Shafilea Ahmed’ is urging schools across the region to take action against forced marriage and to be vigilant of those at risk by joining the groups student and teacher ambassador scheme.
It comes just over two months after South Yorkshire police made history when they were granted a protection order for their first identified male victim of forced marriage.
Alex is now calling for more males who have been affected to come forward, and for schools to get involved to tackle the issue for both genders.
‘In memory of Shafilea Ahmed’ is a national organisation that was set up in memory of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, from Cheshire who was murdered by her parents in a suspected honour killing for becoming too westernised.
Since the murder, Alex and his colleagues Soriya Jabeen and Tayera Khan have been campaigning for a change and are now hoping to get the backing of schools, to deliver education in the hopes of stopping others meeting a similar fate.
The pilot scheme has already taken place in in some colleges and universities across the country, placing students and teachers at the heart of activism throughout the school year.
Alex said that teachers are an important aspect of front-line protection, and that they can spot changes in behaviour and gradual patterns of absence, so if they suspect something they need to take action.
He added: “Forced Marriage is fundamentally about a regime of abuse, slavery, exploitation and violation of human rights.
“Nationally more and more people are coming forward, this show shows how critical it is that recruit an army of teachers to be front-line of defence.
“The front-line of protection begins with the classroom. It’s imperative that we take extensive action that makes it clear that this abuse is not an untouchable issue and it will not be tolerated in this country.
“We have to educate young people to know their fundamental rights, ensure teachers and students are equipped with awareness of all the need to signs.
“The scheme is about establishing a platform in schools where young activists utilise their skills and take the lead in dismantling forced marriage and honour-based violence, challenge societal attitudes, learn from each other and be the voice for those who are at risk.
“It’s about empowering young people and getting them to engage in peer education.”
To get in touch with Alex or another member of the campaign, contact 07906901404.