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Violence Against Women in young people’s lives: Forced marriage

Forced marriage
So we’re now going to look at the issue of forced marriage. So you can see here from the poster, this is from a service that works with young people and adult women who have experienced forced marriage. And they’ve seen forced marriage as abuse. It’s not a cultural artefact. It’s abuse. And I’ve got a couple of slides up now from the Scottish government who are very clearly state this is the definition of what a forced marriage is. And again, you can see– you can read that in your own time– but you can see from their definition a forced marriage is where there is not full and free consent from both parties. And they are very clear.
The Scottish government is very clear that forced marriage is a form of violence against women, gender based violence, and when children are involved, it’s a form of child abuse. So who might be affected by forced marriage? The Scottish government have some statistics here. And they’re saying that it’s not a typical victim, but we know that women and young women and girls between ages of 13 and 30 are more likely to experience this. And we know again, it’s a gender crime, so a lot of young women who are forced into marriage. And they also quote some stats here about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, LGBT young people. And young people with disabilities who are forced into marriage.
So recently, with colleagues at the beginning of the year, we published a report that was commissioned by the Scottish government called Understanding Forced Marriage in Scotland. And again, the link is there if you want to see more about this, you can click on the link and get the full report. And we were trying to look at the landscape in Scotland, what’s actually going on, and what’s been the impact of the recent legislation. So on this slide now, we can see that there is legislation in Scotland on forced marriage. We have the forced marriage et cetera protection Jurisdiction Scotland Act 2011, which provides civil protection.
And that is in the form of a forced marriage protection order for those at risk of forced marriage, as well as those already in a forced marriage. And then also since 2011, breaching a forced marriage protection or FMPO has been a criminal offence. So there’s also now a specific criminal offence of forcing someone to marry, which was created under the anti-social behaviour crime, and Policing Act 2014. So there’s both civil legislation and criminal legislation. People can be fined and people can be given custodial sentences. There’s also a wider EU legislation, legal interventions. So we have again, within EU, we have several legislation criminal.
And also criminalisation of forced marriage is actually a requirement in the Istanbul Convention as some other people in the cities have been talking about. So in our research we thought it was really important to speak to some of the women who had experienced forced marriage. Because they’re often silenced. We don’t often hear their voices. And for the women in the study two of the women told us– one young woman says I didn’t really go to anyone. I think I just thought I’m doing something wrong. I didn’t think they– the perpetrator, the family, the person she was being forced to marry– they were wrong. It was like I was doing something wrong.
And that again, is reflective what the young people who were experiencing relationship with were saying I was doing something wrong. So taking on the blame. And again, this other woman talks about the complexities involved about how she was being forced to marry her first cousin. So that added other dynamics and dimensions because there was family members involved in that. And so it was difficult for her mum. Her mum couldn’t say no to her relative. And that’s why her mum forced her. That’s why she thinks her mum forced her into this marriage.
So we’ll leave that there. And we’re going to know the campus violence. So there’s a link here to a YouTube video by Lady Gaga. And you can look at that on your own time, if you wish. And it was a statement in the video that she made about her own experiences of sexual assault. So whilst the slides is about from the US, we know that there’s been recent research done in this country, the UK, about campus violence. But it’s quite a new topic. So we don’t have that much data on it yet. But what the study was done by NUS. And they surveyed women students back in 2010.
And from their survey what they found was that of a sizable minority of women on campus would experience the sexual violence. So that example, one in seven had experienced a serious physical or sexual assault whilst they were student. 68% experienced verbal nonverbal harassment and so on. So this is a problem. And universities are realising that this is a problem. There was further research conducted by the NUS in 2012. And that report again, is available called That’s What She Said. So this was some of the women shared in their experiences.
And one of them says, I don’t know anyone, any of my female friends who haven’t had some kind of encounter that was harassment, whether it was verbal or physical since I’ve been at university. So that’s isn’t a minority. It’s a small group of women, but it’s a sizable group of women. And these are men that were studied were seen most of their friends have experienced this too. So there’s other bits of research going on. Universities now realise they have to be more active and do more about this. And I’m also involved in a project with colleagues here at our institution, as our other colleagues and other institutions across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
So to conclude this session on young people, start by saying within their own experiences, young people are victims of abuse and violent behaviour. And it’s perpetrated by those that an intimate relationship with by parents and other family members, and by friends and peers. There’s a linkage between attitudes towards girls and women’s perceived roles and more traditional roles, and abuse and violence committed towards them. In addition then, if we what to tackle this, I would argue that we have to have both behaviour change and attitudinal change. We need to change the attitudes, particularly of those more traditional views of women’s roles and men’s roles. And we obviously clearly have to change the behaviour so that is no longer acceptable. Thank you.

In this video, Dr. Melanie McCarry will be exploring the issue of Forced Marriage and why it is regarded as a form of violence against women.

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