FORCED MARRIAGE: TIME TO ACT

By the end of this year, 14 million girls worldwide under the age of 18 will be forced into marriage-and it is estimated that up to 8,000 of them are from the UK. It is an ordeal no child should face-never mind this shockingly high number. This month, forced marriage is on the UK political agenda as the government hosts a summit on July 22. Prime Minister David Cameron said " Forcing a woman or girl into marriage is a serious abuse of human rights and robs her of the right to chose her own future. The UK leads the world in tackling this practice and that is why we have recently taken decisive action to criminalise it. This month we will be hosting a major summit to help tackle the issue, in the UK and around the world. I want to send a clear and strong message: this practice is totally unacceptable, illegal and will not be tolerated in the UK." The summit will bring together over 400 people including survivors and representatives from UNICEF, charities and overseas governments. Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, believes that the summit can make a real, lasting difference. "Criminalisation is the first step, but we need to teach children, teachers and the police how to spot the early signs of forced marriage and how to deal with it" says Aneeta. " We have made progress in the UK. Now it is time to make it global issue. This is something that we could see eradicated in our lifetime."

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