Where be the Feminists on forced marriages?
UK: Asks Camilla Cavendish
|WHERE HAVE ALL the feminists gone? Equality campaigners seem terribly busy wrangling over flexible working and who puts the rubbish out. Few have much to say about women who have been transplanted into this country from cultures that regard them not as individuals but as possessions. Few have commented on 12-year-old Molly Campbell, abducted on Friday from the Hebrides and smuggled to Pakistan. Her mother’s decision to shelter in one of the most remote parts of the British Isles proved to be no protection against a father who was determined to assert his power, and possibly to force her into marriage. No doubt this little girl is torn by conflicting loyalties. Yet her abduction raises fundamental issues of equality that cannot be swept under the carpet to protect “cultural sensitivities”. There is a new front in the fight for women’s freedom. It is in Bradford and in East London, where 90 per cent of the forced marriage cases handled by the Foreign Office originate. A team of diplomats at the British Embassy in Islamabad rescued 105 women last year. Yet the numbers in trouble are far higher. The charity Reunite, which helps victims of child abduction, dealt with 307 new cases involving 454 children last year, up by a fifth from the year before. Pakistani cases are increasing the most. A Foreign Office report on Bradford and Tower Hamlets points to the increasing numbers of young Pakistanis and Bangladeshis reaching marriageable age in this country. The mean age of the UK population is 40; the Pakistani community’s is 26 and the Bangladeshi community’s is 24.|