Summer holidays should be a time when we can all relax and be ourselves, but for some young people the reality is very different. Today the government issued a warning about the dangers of forced marriage, which often involves young people being taken out of the country on what they think are holidays, only to find themselves at risk. It’s a particular problem for LGBT people.
“When my father and uncles found out that I was a lesbian, I thought I was going to die – that they were going to kill me. Being forced into a marriage is like being sold to be raped,” says Maya, 19, quoted in the government’s advice leaflet for LGBT people. Maya escaped with the help of the British Consulate but the Forced Marriage Unit has expressed concern that many of those at risk are not aware of services designed to help them.
“Young people have the right to choose whether to marry, who to marry, and when. Anybody worried that they or a friend are at risk of being forced into marriage abroad should seek advice before it’s too late. There may be only one chance to save yourself or someone else from a life they did not choose,” says Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister Alistair Burt, who thinks that people looking out for their friends could make a big difference.
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