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The You’re Not Alone Forced Marriage Seminar

Bradford’s Support Professionals Speak Out On Forced Marriage.
High Profile Seminar Attracts Top Speakers & Over 90 Delegates.

Local law firm, Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors, was overwhelmed with the response to a Seminar they recently held to discuss the issues surrounding Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence. The event, held at The Midland Hotel on 25 September 2013, was attended by over 90 delegates from a wide range of organisations based across Bradford and further afield.

The keynote speaker for the morning was Sameem Ali, a survivor of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse who shared her personal and very moving story with the audience to challenge preconceptions and change mindsets. An extract read from Sameem’s autobiography, ‘Belonging’, coupled with a screening of her acclaimed documentary ‘Honour Me’ painted a stark and shocking picture of Forced Marriage. Now a Labour Councillor for the Moss Side Ward of Manchester and committed activist against Forced Marriage, she urged delegates to think about what they, personally, were doing to prevent Forced Marriage and reiterated her stance that Forced Marriage is Child Abuse and completely refuting the view that this practice could ever be seen as cultural.

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, Founder & CEO of Karma Nirvana, the UK’s leading charity for victims of Honour Based Abuse, enagaged delegates in the afternoon by detailing the role support workers can play in improving the response given to victims in terms of enabling them to speak out and acting appropriately to information given to safeguard them from harm or reprisals. Talking about Forced Marriages in Bradford, Jasvinder commented "Forced marriages and honour based abuse remain a hidden crime and these events of awareness are critical to victims receiving the right response.

The Keynote Speakers

The Keynote Speakers – Sameem Ali, Jamil Ismail (Partner & Head of Family Law at Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors),
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE (Karma Nirvana)

As a national charity the reporting for the region of Bradford is remarkably low considering the significant communities. This is not in our opinion an indicator that there are less cases but worryingly the case that victims are extremely isolated, there remains a lack of awareness and limited engagement with agencies."

Jamil Ismail, Partner and Head of Family Law at Petherbridge Bassra gave an insightful presentation into the legal perspective on Forced Marriage, defining the difference between Arranged and Forced Marriages as well as the firm’s experience in issuing Forced Marriage Orders. The afternoon section of the event was also attended by Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, David Ward. Each speaker’s presentation was followed by lively and productive debate from the floor with delegates sharing experiences, learning points and planning strategies to give young people at risk of Forced Marriage or Honour Based Abuse clearer and safer opportunities to speak out without fear or shame.

Anne Petherbridge, Practice Manager at Petherbridge Bassra praised all speakers and delegates for their involvement in making the event such a success, saying "It’s rare that support professionals get the opportunity to all gather in one place, at one time, to share their vision and experiences in a safe environment. By bringing these issues into the open we can start to plan better ways of working together to give Forced Marriage victims the advice and help they need".

Jamil Ismail, David Ward Lib Dem MP for Bradford East and Anne Petherbridge

Left: Jamil Ismail, Partner & Head of Family Law Addresses The Audience
Right: David Ward Lib Dem MP for Bradford East & Anne Petherbridge (Practice Manager)

As well as being well-attended by support agencies, healthcare professionals, schools & colleges, police, probation, fire service and social workers as well as members of the public with their own personal experience of these issues, the event also attracted significant media attention and was featured on ITV Calendar News and GEO TV.

Forced Marriage Seminar Featured on GEO TV

Click here to see the full report, featuring an interview with Sameem Ali and footage from the recent event.


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Tel: 01274 724114 Fax: 01274 724161

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