One in seven arranged marriage victims is male, says government team

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The Independent Online

Scores of young British men are being forced into marriage against their will every year, a specialist Foreign Office unit has discovered.

The finding that one in seven forced marriage victims is male has emerged as part of a government initiative originally aimed at helping to prevent young women being wed against their will.

The Community Liaison Unit (CLU), which was set up in 2000 by the Foreign Office, found that boys as young as 14 were being bullied by their parents into getting engaged.

Victims have been taken by their families to Pakistan or Bangladesh for a "holiday" and found themselves attending their own weddings.

The government unit has dealt with more than 800 cases of forced marriage, of which more than 15 per cent involve young men. Fifty-five male cases were recorded in the year to November last year. Officials believe that hundreds more forced marriages, which unlike arranged marriages are illegal, are never reported.

Although support groups and women's refuges have been established for female victims, no such facilities exist for unwilling husbands. The problem is highlighted tonight in Real Story on BBC1, which features the cases of two young men from the north of England who were lured to Pakistan to get married against their will.

Heather Harvey of the CLU said that male victims suffered a stigma that made them "embarrassed" to seek help.

"Of the cases that have been reported to us so far, about 15 per cent have involved young men," she said.

"We do think the number of male victims is much higher than that but, just as with domestic violence or rape, for a male victim it is difficult to come forward."