Missing schoolchildren forced into arranged marriages?
Fears emerged today that dozens of missing schoolchildren in Britain have been forced into arranged marriages.
There are currently 33 children in Bradford who remain ‘unaccounted for’ after being off school for at least two months with no explanation of their whereabouts.
Across the country, 14 other areas have been pinpointed by the government, where children under 16 are missing from school.
Children’s Minister, Kevin Brennan, revealed the figures to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, who are examining the issue of arranged marriage in Britain.
According to statistics from Bradford City Council – a city with a large Asian population – 205 children were unaccounted for in 2007. Further investigation led to discoveries of 172 of those children, however 33 are still missing.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz stated: ‘The figures you have given us quite frankly have shocked members of the committee just in relation to Bradford.’ The MPs have asked for a more detailed report about the missing children to be delivered next week.
A spokesman for the department of children, schools and families said there was no evidence the missing children had been forced into arranged marriages, however they did admit Bradford is an area where ‘a forced marriage problem has been reported.’
The issue of arranged marriage in Britain will be addressed this summer when laws will be introduced to allow victims to acquire court injunctions against those trying to force them to marry.