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Only five of the 51 cases involving forced marriage investigated in West Yorkshire since June 2014 have resulted in a suspect being charged, according to the government.
Figures from the Home Office have revealed that, of these 51 investigations, as many as 35 were dropped due to evidential difficulties, of which 16 were victim-based problems.
This means that many of these cases collapse because the victims are too afraid to give evidence against their abuser.
An investigation into these statistics by the Guardian uncovered that a boy as young as eight was among a number of children feared by judges to be at risk of forced marriage.
It is believed that the schoolboy is one of the UK’s youngest known potential victims of forced marriage, and among 71 children, teenagers and women in the West Yorkshire guarded by special court orders since 2014.
Statistics in the area correlated with the West Midlands, where two-thirds of investigations resulted in no charges.
Police commander Mak Chishty commented on the matter: “My message to the community and to victims is that I recognise it’s under-reported, I recognise it’s going on. I need you – through friends, family, teachers – to come and tell me and my colleagues in policing so we can help.
“I also appeal to the wider community to say actually this practice is out of date, it is abuse and it must be stopped. That doesn’t mean not practising your religion, this means conforming with human rights.”
Designed to reduce the number of forced marriage victims, the new forced marriage law introduced in June 2014 has seen only one conviction so far.
Since 2014, courts in England and Wales have granted 800 forced marriage protections orders which have stopped many victims being taken out of the country by their relatives.
Despite this, campaigners believed that the majority of these cases should result in criminal prosecutions.
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