Police warning issued over forced marriages in South Yorkshire

Dr Alan Billings spoke out against forced marriage
Dr Alan Billings spoke out against forced marriage

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has issued a warning about forced marriages in the county.

Dr Alan Billings spoke out after attending a conference on forced marriage in Sheffield, warning that they are 'illegal' and that South Yorkshire Police will 'take action' against those who 'enable' them to go ahead.

The PCC said: "We need to make a distinction between an arranged marriage - where families might introduce young people to one another - and a forced marriage, where someone is or feels compelled to marry another. The law is clear - a marriage must be with the free consent of both parties.

“Forced marriages may be the result of physical force or emotional blackmail. Emotions are manipulated if it is suggested that someone must marry for the sake of family honour or to avoid shame. Enabling a forced marriage is illegal and the police would take action if instances were brought to their attention."

The conference was organised by the Pakistan Muslim Centre in Sheffield, the Federation of Mosque Chairs and the Muslim Women's Network.

Muhammad Ali, chairman of the Pakistan Muslim Centre, said: "Forced marriages have been responsible for destroying so many lives. We wanted today to be about sending a strong message - Islam says no to forced marriages; Sheffield says no to force marriages.

"I want to applaud the city of Sheffield for coming together with Muslim Women Network and Pakistan Muslim Centre and supporting us in making this brave stand."

Hafees Rehman, director and secretary of the Pakistan Muslim Centre, said: “Today we have started a tsunami, the waves of which will send a clear message out to everyone - forced marriage has no place in society “ .