UK: Social workers hampered by political correctness
Women and young girls at risk of being taken abroad and forced into marriage are being failed because local officials fear 'offending' minority communities, according to a Government report.
Social workers are being slow to use new court orders aimed at stopping potential victims being spirited overseas to be married without their consent, the report said.
It pointed to 'a fear of being accused of racism or not being culturally sensitive'.
Judges who rule on applications for the orders warned of a 'political correctness agenda' hampering efforts to help.
Schools were accused of failing to alert pupils to the issue, for fear of offending parents.
Children as young as nine have been taken overseas by their parents and forced to marry complete strangers. Around 70% of cases are from families originally from Pakistan and 10% of Bangladeshi origin.
At least 1300 Britons have been involved in forced marriages in the last four years. As well as very young children, cases have involved adults with mental health problems.
Last month a Muslim father who threatened to kill his wife for blocking a forced marriage in Pakistan for their daughter became the first person to be prosecuted for breach of an order.
The report praised police for being 'active' in bringing cases to the courts. But it pointed to 'issues' with social services, who have tried to negotiate between victims and their families instead of offering immediate protection.
In some 'closed' minority communities community leaders were acting as 'gatekeepers' to forced marriage instead of challenging the practice, the report found.
Charities helping victims of forced marriage backed the report's findings.
Kiran Cheema, regional adviser at Karma Nirvana, which runs a helpline for victims said schools had refused to put up posters warning children because parents might object.
'The reason for not enough orders is because people are worried about cultural sensitivities,' she said.
'They are worried about stepping on people's toes in regards to their culture. That's why people don't bring those orders forward - because they are afraid.'
Source: Daily Mail
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