Forced marriages 'at record high' - South Wales Police
- 8 March 2011
- From the section Wales
South Wales Police say they are dealing with the largest number of cases of forced marriage and honour based-violence they have ever seen.
In the past 12 months, the force has dealt with 49 cases of forced marriage, up from a typical 30-35, with new cases almost every week.
The four Welsh forces have been involved in about 60 cases, with four in north Wales in six months.
The figures are released to coincide with International Women's Day.
A forced marriage, as opposed to an arranged marriage, is where either bride or groom, or both, do not consent to a wedding and are coerced into accepting it.
In many cases they are told they will bring their family shame or dishonour if they refuse.
Ch Supt Neil Kinrade, head of South Wales Police's communities and partnerships department, said forced marriage was a "hidden harm" among some sectors of the community.
He said: "I'm pleased that we are dealing with the numbers [of cases that] we are, however, we are still only dealing with a small number of the actual incidents and practices that are taking place.
"This, amongst the community, is a hidden harm.
"It goes on and it goes on often unchecked by senior members of the community who know it's taking place.
"I think it's less of a problem here than perhaps places like Bradford and London, but nevertheless, it is a problem and it's something that we need to do something about."
He said he believed his force had taken a lead role on the issue of forced marriage, drawing up a training scheme that was now used by more than half of UK police forces.
Strategies for helping victims included supplying them with a secret mobile phone if they feared they were being lured to their family's country of origin as a prelude to a forced marriage.
The force had also set up a "buddy" system where force marriage "survivors" were a role model to those who were now going through the trauma.
Ch Supt Kinrade added: "We do understand the issues and I think we are becoming more effective at dealing with it but what I sense is happening is there is an East v West clash."
He said young people were being educated in south Wales and were "very westernised" then their families give them the news that they have had a partner chosen for them.
"And that often comes as a complete shock to them, against their intent to go to university, to maybe follow a career path. And that's where many youngsters are rejecting it," he added.
"And I think that's important, because here in the UK - and this is the government and the police stance - people must have their basic human rights of determining their own future."
Gwent Police said they had 14 incidents recorded under honour-based violence in 2009/10 and a further five in 2010/11.
Dyfed-Powys Police said they had been involved in two cases of forced marriage over the past two years.