Today children in Sylhet have been painting to raise awareness of forced marriage practices in Bangladesh, which is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic and child abuse, and a serious abuse of human rights.
Deputy British High Commissioner Nick Low hosted a competition at the District Council Auditorium in Sylhet and awarded prizes for the best pictures. Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Ariful Haque Choudhury attended as Chief Guest.
The British High Commission initiative aimed to raise awareness of forced marriage among communities with strong links to the UK, and encourage them to take action. Children between the ages of 12 and 16 years made pictures in a range of creative ways, each depicting the important message that the consent of girls and boys is a must before any marriage.
Deputy High Commissioner Nick Low said, “A forced marriage is a marriage without the full and free consent of both parties. It can’t be justified on any religious or cultural basis. It is an appalling and indefensible practice. The UK Government is committed to stop it. Last year our Forced Marriage Unit in the UK handled cases involving 74 different countries. Statistics show that Bangladesh has the third most cases involving UK citizens. This competition aims to sensitise people to resist forced marriage. I congratulate the young people here for both their sense of social responsibility and their wonderful artistic talent.”
Mayor Ariful Haque Choudhury told, “I welcome the painting competition arranged by the British High Commission to raise awareness of forced marriage. I would like to emphasise that forced marriage is not acceptable not only in Sylhet but elsewhere. As Mayor of this city, I expressed my commitment to work towards resisting the practice of forced marriage and support the work of the British High Commission to combat this menace.”
Notes to editors
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.
In 2013 the UK’s Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1302 cases in total.
Cases includes people or groups of people thought to be at potential risk of future forced marriage, those currently going through a forced marriage and those who have already been forced to marry.
15% of cases involved victims below the age of 16, and 25% involved victims aged 16-17.
82% of cases involved female victims and 18% involved male victims.
Contact details for those seeking advice:
British High Commission consular team:
Forced Marriage Unit:
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7008 0151