Forced marriage victims' calls going unanswered

Funding cuts to helpline could lead to service closing down within six months

Calls for help from forced marriage victims are being ignored because the Government has cut funding to a new emergency hotline dedicated to helping women escape so-called "honour violence".

The Honour Network, the only national helpline available to forced marriage victims, has had to stop taking calls in the evening and at weekends since the beginning of January because funding from the Home Office has dried up.

The staff, who are all survivors of honour violence, have since missed 70 calls – the equivalent of three cries for help from potential forced marriage victims going unanswered every day.

Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of Derby-based charity Karma Nirvana, which mans the helpline, said she will have to shut the network entirely in six months unless more cash can be found.

"It absolutely terrifies me when I get in each morning to see the calls that we've missed," she said. "It takes an enormous amount of courage – often a great deal of risk – for victims to call us. Many might only get one chance to make that call and every time we fail to pick up we are ignoring someone in desperate need of support."

Last year the Honour Network received up to 300 calls per month from men and women, a quarter of which would come in at the evening or at weekends, often from people who had taken great risks to their safety to call.

The helpline was set up with support from the Government's Forced Marriage Unit, which gave Karma Nirvana a £43,000 start-up grant in April 2008 and further emergency funding last spring. But the charity said it has struggled to keep Whitehall interested.

The network has been entirely reliant on public funding since September last year when the last bit of Government funding ran out and was not renewed. Karma Nirvana estimates that the charity needs just £80,000 to keep the line open all year round, about half of which they can provide through fundraising.

The Government's approach to tackling forced marriages has come under increasing criticism in recent months. In November, The Independent revealed how British women who had been forced into marriages abroad were being asked to pay for their own repatriation using low-interest loans that they could only access if they surrendered their passports.

In October, Mrs Sanghera wrote to eight MPs, including Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Keith Vaz (who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee which investigated forced marriages) and Alan Campbell, who has been tasked with leading the Home Office's fightback against such practices. Only Mrs Sanghera's constituent MP Bob Laxton replied, and he is standing down at the next election.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said that, until last month, they had not received any requests for funding from Karma Nirvana in the current financial year. But Mrs Sanghera says her letters show that she had been requesting help since October. Alan Campbell has, however, agreed to fund an independent evaluation of the helpline to assess its needs.



“The Government takes Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence extremely seriously and we remain committed to working with partners across the voluntary sector to support victims," a Home Office spokesperson said. "This year the Government's Forced Marriage Unit has increased funding available for projects in the UK to more than £80,000."



“Funding to the Honour Network has not been cut. Until last month we received no request for funding from Karma Nirvana in this financial year. The Government has a duty to ensure that the projects we fund provide value for money for the taxpayer are undertaken in an accountable and transparent manner. We have written to the organisation to offer to support them by funding an independent evaluation of the helpline."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable