Thursday, July 15, 2010

Forced Marriage can "Correct" Gay Men

The U.K.'s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) reports that there was a 65% increase in the calls reporting cases of men in forced marriage in 2009. The unit received 134 calls and emails in 2008, but the following year, FMU received 220 calls and emails reporting male victims.

Last year, men in Britain made up a 14% of the 1,682 forced marriage cases total reported. However, under-reporting has led FMU to believe that there could be a total of 10,ooo British citizens in forced marriage. In addition, they estimate that 20% of these cases involve a male victim.

According to Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne, men find it harder than women to ask for help when faced with forced marriage. With few men coming forward, young men between the age of 15 and 24 years continue to face physical and sexual violence, confinement and at times, being sent to other countries for not complying with their families' wishes.

Why is this happening to men? Hasn't forced marriage usually been a problem for women?

While many think of forced marriage as a crime that occurs against women, men also experience this form of human trafficking. Unsurprisingly, men are subjected to forced marriage because they are gay or their families believe that they might be gay. Reinforcing the societal expectation of heterosexuality, families use forced marriage as a means to "correct" a man's sexual orientation.

I also just want to point out that homosexuality is one reason that some women have been subjected to forced marriage. There is no reason that anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation (or any other reason!), should be forced into marriage.

Photo Credit: BBC News

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