Independent reported that more than one
in five of the forced marriages reported
to the government involve disabled people,
but experts fear that the true scale of
the problem could be far worse. Police officers,
lawyers and support group workers are at
present in talks on how to address the problem.
groups are warning that forced marriage
is being used as a way to ensure that children
with disabilities will be looked after as
ageing parents struggle to cope. A person
with learning disabilities may also be seen
as biddable by foreigners in search of a
majority of cases reported involve families
from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Spouses
are not always told about the disability
and only discover the truth when they first
meet, often at the wedding, or even after.
Rape, domestic violence and abandonment
are common consequences of such marriages
as opportunities to escape or seek help
can be limited, according to support groups.
Sanghera, who works for Voice UK, a charity
which deals with disabled children, gives
the example of such a girl, Rani. Her mother
agreed to marry her off to an Indian who
was looking for a British passport.
later found that upon his arrival, the husband
started beating and abusing her, resulting
in a miscarriage. He was also pinching her
benefits and sending the money back home.
The mother, when told about this, refused
to take action and instead pressured her
daughter to stay on with her husband as
it was a matter of family honour.
Gupta, a barrister who specialises in forced
marriages, believes most families are just
trying to do their best for their children.
He says: "These are generally families
from law-abiding communities who think this
very old fashioned and illegal practice
is their only choice."
to Saghir Alam, of Equality 2025, the government's
disability advisory body, social services
must become more culturally sensitive so
parents do not feel that marriage is the
only long-term care option.