It’s your wedding day. They said it would be one of the happiest days of your life

My name is Habon, I am a 17 year old youth advocate. I have been campaigning in Bristol about Female Genital Mutilation for three years as part of a youth group called Empowering. Empowering have been very active in the campaign against FGM by hosting our own conference and performing our own poetry.

It’s your wedding day. They said it would be one of the happiest days of your life. At your friend’s wedding the bride and the groom had shed tears of joy. You thought that would be you. Fast forward three years and you’re faced with a complete stranger, or maybe he isn’t? Either way you clearly expressed the fact that you didn’t want to marry him. Your cries fell on deaf ears. How did you reach this point, being forcibly married to a man you want nothing to do with.

They said it was because you had become “too westernised”.

They said he came from a wealthy family and that he could take care of you.

They said you were protecting the family name and to refuse would be “dishonourable”.

They, however, failed to remember that you HAVE a choice; no one is allowed to marry you without your consent. However, when the day came no one was there to stop it or rescue you.

You were angry and bitter, this wasn’t the sort of marriage you wanted.

It took you two long years of suffering in silence to speak out; but when you did you realised that you were brave enough to change the hand that fate had dealt you and seek help.

To this day your marriage has been terminated and you are slowly trying to rebuild your relationship with your family on your own terms.

In 2013, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1302 cases.

82% of cases involved female victims and 18% involved male victims.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes it a criminal offence to force someone to marry, this includes:

Taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)

Marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)

Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

As you can see forced marriage is not something that happens solely in “less developed” countries. There are British citizens who are living with the very real threat of being forced to marry. This is why we should all lend our voices to the campaign against forced marriage as well as child and early marriage.

Need help stopping a forced marriage?

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into.

Forced Marriage Unit

Telephone: 020 7008 0151
From overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Out of hours: 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre)

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