Police protect two Sheffield teenagers at risk of forced marriage

Suzanne Bluck
Suzanne Bluck
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Court orders have been granted to protect two teenage girls deemed at risk of forced marriage.

The Forced Marriage Protection Orders for two girls, aged 15 and 17, were issued in Sheffield after South Yorkshire Police presented evidence suggesting the teens were at risk of being forced to marry against their will.

Under the orders it is illegal for the girls to be forced to marry or to be taken out of the UK for their weddings.

Last month South Yorkshire Police secured similar protection orders for two Sheffield girls deemed at risk of female genital mutilation.

Detective Sergeant Suzanne Bluck said: “I am extremely pleased we have been granted the right to enforce the orders and protect both of the girls from forced marriages, which are against the law and can occur when either or both individuals concerned don’t give their full consent.

“This action shows our commitment to protect, work with and provide support to anyone who may be vulnerable to these crimes as victims subject to forced marriages may have been promised from birth by families or agreed to the partnership at a young age without realising what it entails. This can then leave girls and women in situations where they are forced to marry men, who are often relatives, and become a victim of repeated rape, by their new husbands.

“I hope this court result sends out a strong message to firstly potential or current victims of forced marriage that we are able to assist and support you, but also to those who still subject their sons and daughters to this, that we will take positive action to prevent this from happening.

"Our main priority is to protect all members of our communities, raise awareness and encourage anyone who may be, or has been a victim, to report it to the police."

Sheffield Council figures show that 18 children have been 'safeguarded' over the last three years and helped to avoid marriages it is believed they would have been forced into.

Carly Speechley, Director of Children and Families for Sheffield City Council, said: “We take safeguarding concerns about forced marriage extremely seriously here in Sheffield.

“The harm done to these children can be devastating, and can include them being removed from their school, from their families and community, and sometimes taken out of the country.

“To help keep children safe, social workers work closely with schools and the police to share intelligence. A child protection officer with specialist knowledge in this area advises on cases and the best way to help children in each individual situation.

“Our work also involves raising awareness of the practice of forced marriage, and this is covered in the safeguarding training we offer to schools. All school staff are expected to attend safeguarding training every three years to make sure they stay updated on the best ways to keep vulnerable children safe.

“I’d urge anyone concerned about this issue to contact us, and this can be done in confidence.”