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Five-year-old girl becomes UK's youngest victim of forced marriage

London, Sat, 31 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 31 (ANI): A five-year-old girl is thought to have become Britain's youngest victim of forced marriage.

She was one of 400 children to receive assistance from the UK government's Forced Marriage Unit in the last year.

An 87-year-old woman was also a suspected victim, The Telegraph reports.

Jasvinder Sanghera, herself a former victim who now runs the support group and helpline The Honour Network, said it is likely the girl had been promised from birth to a first cousin.

She pointed out that the he practice is particularly prevalent among Muslims of Pakistani origin.

Although the marriage would not be recognised by law in Britain, children can take part in religious "Nikkah" ceremonies in a Mosque or even a private home.

Sanghera told about one of her friends who had been taken to Pakistan as a seven-year-old boy for what he thought was a "party" only to realise later that he had been married.

Meanwhile, campaigners have warned that the case could be just the tip of the iceberg with "thousands" of children in some communities believed to have been promised in marriage from birth.

According to the paper, last year the Forced Marriage Unit handled 1,468 cases involving victims ranging in age from five to 87.

One in ten cases involved children under 15 and almost half were between 16 and 21.

Over 65 per cent of cases involved people of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin. (ANI)

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