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Seminar in Bradford to highlight issue of forced marriages
11:00am Monday 2nd September 2013 in News
Experts on forced marriage and honour-based violence are lined up to speak at a hard-hitting seminar.
The event is being spearheaded by a Bradford law firm which says it is dealing with more and more forced marriage cases. The seminar, organised by Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors, will be held at the Midland Hotel on September 25.
Speakers include Sameem Ali, a Manchester city councillor, who was forced into a marriage in Pakistan when she was 13 and was brought back to the UK months after she became pregnant, aged 14.
Councillor Ali has since become a campaigner on the issue. She visits schools and universities to discuss forced marriage and has written a book, ‘Belonging’, about her own struggle to break free.
This summer, Coun Ali appeared widely on national television to raise awareness of the number of girls who go missing over the holidays as they are taken abroad to be married against their will.
At the Bradford event, she will talk about her own experience and highlight the challenges and preconceptions that support workers face when trying to tackle the problem.
She said: “I’m telling my own personal story so survivors can actually see there’s life after forced marriage.”
Coun Ali said more needed to be done to protect young people.
She said: “It’s really sad that people are still putting culture before actually helping young people.
“I hear it many times when teachers have come to me and said there’s a lot of people that go missing from our schools and yet nothing has been done about it.”
Another speaker will be a woman who set up a charity for victims of forced marriages and honour-based violence. Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of Derby-based Karma Nirvana, was disowned by her family aged 16 when she refused to marry a man in India.
Karma Nirvana’s helpline now takes about 600 calls a month.
The third speaker will be Petherbridge Bassra’s family law solicitor Nazia Shaukat, who says she is dealing with an increasing number of forced marriage cases.
She and her family law team work with support agencies, charities and children’s centres across Bradford to provide legal help and advice.
The seminar is the second event for a new consortium of agencies called You’re Not Alone, which was set up by the law firm this year.
The organisers are hoping to enlist courts, hospitals, charities, counselling services and other solicitors’ firms, as well as victims, to participate in the seminar. The free event will be held from 9.30am to 2.45pm and booking is essential.