A campaigner against forced marriages has urged people to speak out for male victims after figures revealed the number of cases had risen by more than a third.
Former Keighley MP Ann Cryer urged victims, teachers, doctors, solicitors and civil servants to report cases of men being forced to marry and put an end to the ‘secrecy’ surrounding the taboo.
Figures show a 65 per cent jump in reports to the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) over the last two years about men entering forced marriages.
Describing Bradford as a ‘city of silence’, Mrs Cryer said: “We need to change hearts and minds by talking about these things. If we are not going to talk, we are not going to change anything.”
Many men have been forced to marry by their families because they suspect they are gay, or to cousins in arranged marriages, she said. Others have been beaten or starved for refusing to enter a forced marriage.
In total, there have been 220 calls to the FMU helpline from men, compared with 134 in 2008.
Men in Yorkshire make up 15 per cent – or 33 – of the total number of cases reported to the FMU.
Mrs Cryer said male victims or others acting for them could now apply for a forced marriage protection order, measures she campaigned for while in Parliament.
The orders can prevent a forced marriage taking place or protect someone when a marriage has already happened.
Mrs Cryer said: “When I urged for these measures to come into force, the worry was that nobody would use the new law because they would be terrified about the problems they would get into with their families.
“The fact that they have demonstrates that young people, particularly in Muslim communities are becoming much more brave and outspoken and living their lives the way they want to live them, rather than in the way their family wants them to.”
Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said it was encouraging that more men were reporting incidents of forced marriage.
“This is recognition that, since the law changed, people have been willing to come forward,” he said. “It is starting to uncover how big a problem this has always been.”