Recent Resources for Feminists
Thailand: In absence of HPV Vaccine, side-effect free VIA- cryotherapy prevents cervical cancer Print E-mail

 Volume 392, No. 10141, p2, 7 July 2018


Cervical cancer prevention in Thailand­ a model of success

On June 23, the Provincial Health Office of Roi Et, Thailand, received the 2018 UN Public Service Award for its cervical cancer prevention programme and promoting gender responsive public services.

Just two decades ago, cervical cancer was the most common cancer for women in Thailand and the country struggled to provide the standard cytology and referral approach due to lack of infrastructure, accessibility, and an organised screening programme. The trajectory changed in 2000 with the Safety, Acceptability,

Feasibility and program implementation Effort (SAFE) study, which was developed by Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, and led by Thailand-based Khunying Kobchitt Limpaphayom and colleagues. Tested in a rural northeastern province, this single visit approach combined a visual inspection of the cervix using acetic acid (VIA) with cryotherapy. Unlike cytology screening, this approach is low-cost, does not require sophisticated equipment, and can be made available in under-resourced areas. Over 7 months, 5999 women were screened for precancerous lesions. After 1 year of follow-up, 94·3% of the women who received treatment after screening tested negative.

The SAFE study, published in The Lancet in 2003, subsequently informed WHO's recommendations for cervical cancer prevention. 32 provinces have since implemented the approach, providing free VIA and cryotherapy services to women. Among Thailand's five leading causes of cancer death for women, cervical cancer has seen the largest decline in incidence over the past decade. Key to the programme's success was task-shifting to nurses to perform cryotherapy, a crucial allowance in a country where there is only one doctor for every 60…000 people. Partnership between Jhpiego, the Ministry of Public Health, and local organisations ensured the sustainability of the programme and national policy change despite political upheavals between 2001 and 2015.

The programme is an inspiration for other countries striving to implement low-cost, evidence-based public health interventions and shows how partnership efforts can advance women's health and equality.

Argentina: After Lower House Abortion Bill Victory, confidence rises for prompt Senate approval Print E-mail
  Latin America ~ Friday 15 June 2018

Argentine Activists, Campaigners Face New Battle as Abortion Bill Heads to Senate

 Women celebrate partial approval of legal abortion bill. (EFE)

by Camilo E. Mejia

According to preliminary counts, the bill has the support of 28 senators, it is opposed by 30, and 14 have not announced their position.

After claiming victory in the lower chamber of Argentina’s Congress, women's rights activists now face the uphill task of getting the bill passed in the Senate even with several of the country's senators pledging support for the law, which legalizes abortions up to 14th weeks.

On Thursday, Argentines who support legal, safe and free abortions celebrated the bill’s approval by 129 legislators. However, the law still needs approval in the Senate, and widespread support in the streets will play a key role as it did in the lower chamber.  

The Senate, which has historically been more conservative than the lower chamber, will decide the bill’s fate since president Mauricio Macri has already announced he will respect the decision made by the legislative and will not veto the law.  

According to a preliminary count by Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, there are 28 senators in favor, 30 against and 14 who have not announced their position.   

Miguel Pinchetto, leader of the Federal Argentina parliamentary bloc, told reporters he is confident the bill will become law in a less than a month. Support for the bill comes from all parties along the ideological spectrum.

Members of the governing party Cambiemos have also declared support for the bill, and the Front for Victory party, which has nine senators, announced they would vote for the law as a united bloc, confirming former president Cristina de Kirchner has reconsidered her opposition to legalizing abortion.

The leaders of the two governing parties, Humberto Schiavoni of the Pro, and Luis Naidenoff of Cambiemos have expressed their support for the bill.

Naidenoff told local newspaper La Nacion “we are not facing a debate on faith, but rather on public health.”

Dates for the debate in the Senate remain unknown, but Pinchetto said it could happen after winter recess, in July. Analysts believe it will be essential to maintain the momentum and push for a prompt vote.
 Thursday June 14, 2018

IWHC Welcomes Argentina’s Historic Lower House Vote to Legalize Abortion


The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) welcomes today’s vote by Argentina’s lower house of parliament in favor of a bill that would decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

“When Argentinian feminists organize, they are an irresistible force! We salute their brilliant, strategic activism. The women of Argentina won’t be true citizens until they have full control over their bodies,” said Françoise Girard, president of IWHC. “The Senate must now listen closely and respond to the demands and needs of Argentine women.”

Current Argentinian law only permits abortion when the woman’s life or health is in danger, or in the case of rape. The most recent bill, which would reduce clandestine abortions, has renewed the hopes of feminist activists in the country, not least because the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion played a vital role in shaping the bill. In a country where religion plays an important role, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir-Argentina (CDD-Argentina), a longtime grantee partner of the IWHC, is one of the leaders of the National Campaign.

A recent survey conducted by Amnesty International and IWHC’s grantee partner Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES) in partnership with Quiddity shows that more than half of the population fully or partially supports decriminalization. According to data from Argentina’s Ministry of Health, between 370,000 to 522,000 clandestine abortions are performed each year, many of them unsafe.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett

(+1) 212-801-1260
Photo: Fotografías Emergentes

Germany-US: Dubbed a deadly wedding, Bayer-Monsanto merge to become Bayer Crop Science, Print E-mail
 raising environmental & food security fears
 Monday June 4 2018

Bayer to ditch Monsanto name after mega-merger with US corporation

AFP @thelocalgermany

 A Bayer plant in Wuppertal. (DPA)
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer will discard the name Monsanto when it takes over the controversial US seeds and pesticides producer this week, the group said on Monday.

"Bayer will remain the name of the firm. Monsanto will be discontinued as the name of the business," the Leverkusen-based group said in a statement, adding that it expects to close the €54 billion deal on Thursday.

Bosses plan to name the merged agrichemical division Bayer Crop Science once the buyout is complete, German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported, citing "industry sources".

Bayer's takeover bid for Monsanto targets the St Louis-based company for its high-tech genetically modified seeds, many designed to produce crops resistant to its proprietary pesticides.

The mammoth deal will produce a global giant with 115,000 employees and revenues of some €45 billion.

Bayer has put massive resources behind it, raising $57 billion in financing including a new share issue worth €6 billion announced Sunday.

It will also sell large parts of its existing agrichemical and crop seeds business to BASF in concessions to competition authorities on both sides of the Atlantic.

Environmentalists are unhappy with the Bayer-Monsanto tie-up, fearing that it will give too much power to the world's leading manufacturers of genetically modified crops and the controversial weedkiller glyphosate.

In a letter to the European Commission before its March approval of the merger, Friends of the Earth Europe said more than a million people signed petitions calling on EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to block "this merger from hell".

Last month, some 200 people demonstrated against the Bayer-Monsanto merger outside the German firm's annual general meeting.

One woman wearing a wedding dress and a skull mask brandished a sign warning of a "deadly wedding" between the two firms.

"We can't allow gigantic companies to have control over our food system," said Christian Rollmann of protest group "Wir haben es satt" (We're fed up).

When launching the Monsanto takeover bid, Bayer promised it would not introduce genetically modified crops in Europe.
 24 May 2016

Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists

AFP @thelocalgermany
 An anti-Monsanto activist at a protest in Brandenburg in 2014. (DPA)
A proposed tie-up between Bayer and Monsanto may still face numerous hurdles but it has already inflamed opinion in Germany where most people oppose genetically modified foods.

German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, a household name thanks to its painkiller Aspirin, said this week that it is offering $122 per share in cash for Monsanto, or €55 billion in all.

It would be the biggest takeover by a German group of a foreign company and would create a new world leader in seeds, pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops.

But the US agrochemical giant, Monsanto, already under fire in Europe over the possible health risks connected to its pesticide glyphosate, has long been a red rag to environment groups worldwide because of its work in altering the genetic make-up of crops to make them more resistant to disease.

"Monsanto couldn't be more unpopular in Germany," said Anne Isakowitsch, a Berlin-based activist for the environmentalist campaign group, Sum of Us, who has launched a petition against the tie-up.

A combination of the two groups would be "disastrous and diabolical," she told AFP.

"The biggest fear is that Bayer is seeking to buy Monsanto to inundate the European market with GM crops."

Isakowitsch is not alone in expressing such concerns.

A study published by the Environment Ministry in April estimated that 76 percent of Germans feel that the ban on GM crops is justified.

Individual members of the Social Democrat, or SPD party, junior partner in the ruling coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel, are critical of the tie-up.

New lobbying heavyweight

"I am very, very critical about the deal. Monsanto has an extremely bad reputation in Germany in the area of genetics," said Elvira Drobinski-Weiss, who is in charge of GM issues within the SPD.

Opposition is so deeply ingrained that BASF, Germany's other agrochemicals giant, moved its GM research activities to the US in 2012 and halted development of GM seeds for the European market.

The prospect of a tie-up between Bayer and Monsanto is therefore likely to rekindle the whole GM debate in Germany, observers said.

"I hope it will," said Drobinski-Weiss, who wants to harness the debate to campaign for a nationwide ban on GM crops in Germany. Currently, it is up to each regional state to ban them.

The new giant "would have enormous lobbying power on both sides of the Atlantic," said Marco Contiero, policy advisor for agriculture and genetic engineering at Greenpeace.

Bayer is already under fire from environmental activists for manufacturing pesticides that are blamed for the decline in the world's bee populations.

The European Union has placed a moratorium on sales of those chemicals, which are classed as neonicotinoids, since the end of 2013.

But Bayer is contesting the ban.

Its chief executive Werner Baumann conceded that the company would have to "decisively address the point of reputation and challenges of Monsanto in Europe", insisting that "our brand stands for responsibility, transparency and openness".

'Wrong signal’
Critics also argue that a marriage between Bayer and Monsanto would give the two dangerous dominance in the world's agriculture sector, which is already undergoing a wave of consolidation.

US groups Dow Chemical and Dupont are planning to tie the knot, China's ChemChina is taking over Swiss player Syngenta.

And a combined Bayer and Monsanto would be the world leader in seeds and pesticides with market shares of 29 percent and 24 percent respectively, according to Greenpeace. nment," said Renate Künast, member of the environmentalist Green party and a former agriculture minister.

Bayer "is going in the opposite direction to current global discussion," she told AFP.

The EU last week failed to agree on the re-approval of the glyphosate weedkiller in Europe amid fresh fears the product could cause cancer.

Monsanto markets glyphosate under the brand name Roundup. And Künast suggested that if the product becomes a Bayer brand, German politicians could even be persuaded to drop their opposition to it.
 September 22, 2016

Bayer-Monsanto merger can’t erase Nazi chemists’ past

By Victor Grossman

With news of Bayer’s merger with Monsanto, our correspondent in Berlin explores Bayer’s troubled past and its links with the Nazis’ most notorious death camp – Auschwitz.

Bayer’s new deal to buy Monsanto breaks records not only due to its size but because of its evil smell – and not only due to Monsanto’s reputation for deadly trails of everything from disappearing wild flowers and butterflies to poverty-stricken family farmers forced to buy its seeds and pesticides.

Bayer, perhaps best known for its aspirins or other useful medicines, also has a trail marked with death, but in far, far greater numbers. It was Bayer, together with two other chemical giants, BASF and Hoechst, which developed the terrible chlorine gas used in World War I. In 1925, the three formed a giant cartel, IG Farben, which became the world’s leader in pharmaceuticals, dyes, and chemicals.

During the early 1930s, IG Farben became the single largest donor to the election campaign of Adolf Hitler. Although it was slightly reluctant at first, because some of its key scientists were Jewish, in the decisive year before Hitler won power, IG Farben donated 400,000 marks to him and his Nazi party. This was amply rewarded. IG Farben, with Bayer, became the single largest profiteer of German conquests in World War II.

Hitler’s partner
In a letter to IG Farben manager Fritz ter Meer in early 1941, Dr. Otto Ambros praised IG Farben’s friendship with the SS in speeding construction of its Auschwitz-Buna plant and wrote of a banquet given by the camp management where “all measures were worked out for utilizing the truly outstanding management of the concentration camp to the best advantage of the Buna factory.”

Although Auschwitz was the largest, most fearful site in history for annihilating human beings, its basic goal had been the creation of a giant IG Farben complex to produce synthetic petrol and rubber as part of Germany’s plans to conquer Europe and the world.

IG Farben was not only interested in fuel and rubber, however. Correspondence between Bayer managers and the Auschwitz commander included such exchanges as:

“With a view to the planned experiments with a new sleep-inducing drug we would appreciate it if you could place a number of prisoners at our disposal,”

“We confirm your response, but consider the price of 200 RM [reichsmarks] per woman to be too high. We propose to pay no more than 170 RM per woman. If this is acceptable to you, the women will be placed in our possession. We need some 150 women,”

“We confirm your approval of the agreement. Please prepare for us 150 women in the best health possible,”

“Received the order for 150 women. Despite their macerated condition they were considered satisfactory. We will keep you informed of the developments regarding the experiments,”

“The experiments were performed. All test persons died. We will contact you shortly about a new shipment.”

IG Farben also had another interest in Auschwitz. For those too old, too small, or too weak to work, it had Zyklon B, designed and produced by an IG Farben subsidiary, Degesch.

When their conquest plans collapsed and their genocide was ended, the world expected that such men would be punished, and in August 1947 the U.S.-organized Nuremberg War Criminal Tribunal against IG Farben began, with U.S. prosecutor Telford Taylor stating: “These IG Farben criminals, not the lunatic Nazi fanatics, are the main war criminals. If the guilt of these criminals is not brought to light and if they are not punished, they will represent a much greater threat to the future peace of the world than Hitler if he were still alive.”

But the atmosphere in Germany had changed; old foes were replaced by new ones. In July 1948, after nearly a year, 10 of the 24 defendants were acquitted and 13, though found guilty on some of the charges of mass murder, slavery, and crimes against humanity, were sentenced to mild prison terms of one-and-a-half to eight years, including time already served.

Back to business
IG Farben was also split up. But its three main components, now separate again, and urgently needed in a quickening cold war, grew until each one became 20 times bigger than IG Farben as a whole was at its height in 1944, the last year of the war.

By 1952, the new West German government of Konrad Adenauer had amnestied and released the last of those imprisoned, who were soon back in leading positions in the world of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

As for the two men quoted in the letter above, Fritz ter Meer, a managing board member at IG Farben from start to finish, and as wartime manager responsible for IG Auschwitz, said at the trial, defending himself: “Forced labour did not inflict any remarkable injury, pain or suffering on the detainees, particularly since the alternative for these workers would have been death anyway.”

A few years after his release from prison, Fritz ter Meer was reinstated as a managing board member of Bayer. All three sibling firms BASF, Bayer, and Hoechst (which later merged with the French company to form Aventis) soon filled their highest positions with former Nazis.

The man who wrote the above letter, Otto Ambros, who had been responsible for the choice of location, planning, building, and running of IG Auschwitz as operations manager, got – for enslavement – the “toughest” sentence, eight years. After his release in 1952 he became, one after the other, deputy chairman, chairman, or member of the board in a dozen chemical companies.

Best-known was Chemie Grünenthal, which was guilty of selling the thalidomide drug (or Contergan) long after it seemed evident that, if taken by pregnant women, their babies could suffer from missing limbs or other deformities. Until 1959, it was sold in 46 countries with a label that it could be “given with complete safety to pregnant women and nursing mothers.” Up to 10,000 children were affected.

In 2008, researchers in England discovered a link between thalidomide and drugs researched during the war, quite probably one of those developed under the leadership of Otto Ambros during nerve gas research. Until then the company always claimed that previous research data had been lost, presumably during the war.

Untroubled by doubts, the U.S. Department of Energy (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission), hired Ambros as a consultant on coal hydrogenation based on IG Farben research. Asked about hiring a convicted war criminal, the department insisted that all relevant paperwork had been lost.

When a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle asked Ambros in a telephone interview about his 1948 conviction at Nuremberg for mass murder and slavery, he answered: “That happened a very long time ago. It involved Jews. We do not think about it any more.”

Today’s Bayer
Those wartime IG Farben men are all dead, but their companies flourish. And Bayer has been accused in recent years of unethical medical experiments, selling drugs shown to be risky, hindering developing countries from developing vital medications, and using imported materials produced by child labour.

The most serious charge, perhaps, is that a Bayer subsidiary, H.C. Starck, was partly responsible for the long, bloody civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which involved the winning of various minerals but above all the valuable coltran, of which it is the main producer.

Until now, sibling BASF was the largest chemical firm in the world. If the deal holds, it will now be overtaken by Bayer-Monsanto.

Any hopes that Bayer will somehow be bettered in its ways under the influence of Monsanto seem at the least unrealistic.

Photo: The IG Farben plant in Monowitz, near Auschwitz. | Holocaust Research Project

Victor Grossman is a journalist from the U.S. now living in Berlin. He fled the U.S. in the 1950s in danger of reprisals for his left-wing activities at Harvard and in Buffalo, New York. He landed in the former German Democratic Republic (Socialist East Germany), studied journalism, founded a Paul Robeson Archive and became a freelance journalist and author. One of his books is available in English: “Crossing the River. A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany” (2003, University of Massachusetts Press).
Ireland: Rape victims left humiliated & destroyed by brutally misogynic gardaí, lawyers & judges Print E-mail

 Dublin ~ Monday May 28 2018

Rape victims left 'humiliated' by 'barbaric' legal system

One woman was told by garda he would be too embarrassed to take her statement

By Conor Gallagher

One victim said she was asked by a garda if she was telling the truth. "She said it's just that Garda X said you're a liar or a very good actor or maybe both." (Getty)

Victims of sexual assault are being left "humiliated" and "destroyed" by the criminal justice process, which often affects them more than the offence itself, according to a report prepared for the Government.

People described a lack of sensitivity by gardaí, lawyers and judges. One woman was interviewed beside a pool table because the interview room was occupied. Another who was told by a garda he would be "too embarrassed" to take her statement.

Ten men and women were interviewed for the report, compiled by One in Four and passed on to policy-makers in recent weeks.

The document, given the title Only a Witness to reflect the fact that complainants are no more than witnesses in a trial and have no special status, was completed while the Belfast rape trial was being held.

The trial, which ended with the acquittal of rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding on rape charges, thrust the issue of victims' rights into the spotlight and prompted Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to announce a review of procedures for investigating and prosecuting sexual abuse in the Republic.

"It's really, really bad, horrific. It's worse than the abuse itself in some ways and it's been recited over and over again to you," one woman told One in Four researchers.

Another woman, identified as Anne, said she felt she could have left court "and jumped in the Liffey" and no one would have cared.
"It was so inhumane. It's the only word. I never felt that the system in any way valued me as much as it valued [the accused] – never."

Garda insensitivity

Many victims said one of the most traumatising parts of the process was how they were treated by gardaí when they made their initial complaint.

"Emily" said she went to a station to report rape and sexual assault. The garda was shocked by the allegations and said "he'd be quite embarrassed taking a statement from me".

A female garda later took her statement. The garda "smoked cigarette after cigarette" before going outside and fainting, Emily said. Another garda then told the victim she had to quickly sign her statement.

The woman refused because she hadn't finished. She was told she would have to return after 10.30pm that night to finish it "when they weren't busy".

"Valerie" said she was asked by a garda if she was telling the truth. "She said it's just that Garda X said you're a liar or a very good actor or maybe both. I said, 'I am telling you the truth.' "

"Sarah" said she was making her statement when another garda entered and said the room was required for a prisoner. She had to move into the station's canteen and give her statement beside the pool table as other gardaí came in to make tea.

'Inhumane' and 'barbaric'
Victims said they found the court process "inhumane" and "barbaric". Emily complained that during the case the prosecution and defence barristers would chat and joke with each other.

"There needs to be an etiquette, there is a need to respect people who have been waiting years to come to court no matter what they think or what they think of me."

Several victims also complained about the "cruelty" of defence barristers who were cross-examining them.

"He looked at me like I was dirt, like I had no dignity, like I had no respect for myself or anybody else in the courtroom and I was nothing," Anne said. "They can get away with saying the most stupid things to people in order to try and crack them and break them down."

The victims and the report's authors recommend a vast overhaul of the system including bringing in special training for judges and lawyers in sex crime cases and the establishment of a special court and unit of the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with prosecutions.

UK: Thousands groomed for sexual slavery via forced marriage under-reported & unprotected by Govt Print E-mail

 Tuesday May 29 2018

Thousands enslaved in forced marriages across UK, investigation finds

Experts say crime is woefully under-reported, as Guardian research shows large scale of domestic and sexual servitude

Modern-day slavery in focus is supported by Humanity United

By Hannah Summers
 Activists march in London to protest against modern slavery. (Mathew Chattle/Barcroft Images)

More than 3,500 reports of forced marriage were made to police over a three-year period, a Guardian investigation has found, as charities warned that there were thousands more victims living in conditions of modern slavery in homes across the UK.

Data shared exclusively with the Guardian revealed 3,546 reports between 2014 and 2016. But experts warn that the figures, collected by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation under the Freedom of Information Act, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Over the same three-year period, one national helpline run by another NGO received 22,030 calls from individuals or agencies concerned about a forced marriage. In 2017, the NGO Karma Nirvana received a further 8,870 calls, including more than 200 from or about children under 15, and gave advice regarding eight new clients under 10.

The new figures reveal the shocking extent of forced marriage in Britain - a crime that experts say should be investigated and prosecuted as a form of modern slavery.

They point to the fact that a guilty verdict last week against a mother who trafficked her daughter to be married in Pakistan was the first of its kind in the country despite the large number of reported offences.

Legal experts and campaigners say modern slavery legislation could lead to an increase in convictions for a crime that is notoriously hard to prosecute because victims are reluctant to testify against family members.

Last week's landmark conviction resulted in a mother from Birmingham being jailed for four-and-a-half years for duping her 17-year-old daughter into travelling abroad and forcing her into marriage.

The woman had threatened to rip up her daughter's passport if she did not marry the 34-year-old Pakistani national who had got her pregnant when she was just 13.

Karma Nirvana said the case was typical of reports it heard every week from those suffering domestic and sexual servitude within forced marriages.

Its director, Jasvinder Sanghera, said: "We know there are thousands of women and girls in Britain - but men, too - living behind closed doors in forced marriages, yet the crime is woefully under-reported.

"Treated as slaves and subjected to threats and violence, victims endure the added burden of their own families pressurising them to stay in these marriages to avoid bringing them shame."

The majority of callers to its helpline are British citizens. Others have been brought to the UK by a British spouse before being exploited. Threatened with deportation, often unable to speak English and without access to public funds, they find themselves in a cycle of abuse.

A teenage girl confined to the house and raped on a daily basis; a Moroccan woman made to marry her gay British groom to conceal his sexuality and then used as a cleaner; and a West Yorkshire man coerced into handing over all his wages to his in-laws are among forced marriage victims who have contacted UK charities in recent months.

A leading barrister and adviser to the United Nations has warned the government is failing to recognise these people, and thousands like them, as requiring the same protection as those suffering other forms of exploitation.

Parosha Chandran said: "The modern-day meaning of slavery doesn't require in law that you own somebody. Instead it means you treat someone as if they were your property. It's crucial authorities acknowledge this in forced marriage cases.

"There has been no proper consideration in legal terms that a forced marriage involves elements of slavery - where a person is treated as if they are the property of the family they were married into."

While forced marriage is among the acts prohibited under human trafficking EU law adopted by Britain in 2013, the legal provision has not translated to policy.

Referring to last week's conviction, Chandran said: "This was also a human trafficking case with the girl taken abroad for the purposes of exploitation.

"Had the mother also been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, not only would she have faced a more severe penalty, but the judge should have considered ordering her to pay compensation to her daughter for effectively allowing her to be raped at 13 and forcing her to marry the perpetrator at 18."

: Parosha Chandran says perpetrators of forced marriage could be prosecuted under modern slavery legislation. (K.Anastasaki/Handout)

Forced marriage is not listed as an indicator of modern slavery under the national referral mechanism drawn up by the Home Office. Nor is there prosecuting guidance linking forced marriage and slavery crimes.

There have been just two convictions for forced marriage since it was criminalised in 2014. Last week's conviction was the first to be secured after a victim gave evidence against a relative.

Chandran said: "Prosecuting guidance should include forced marriage among the exploitative purposes for which someone could be trafficked. Families who force their children to marry should know that is also a modern slavery offence carrying a sentence of up to life in prison."

Mark Burns-Williamson, the national lead for human trafficking for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, agreed that a better understanding of the links between forced marriage and slavery was needed.

He said: "We are still working through the nuances of the Modern Slavery Act and how to apply the legislation to cases that could include forced marriage in order to secure the best outcomes at court."

Victims of such crimes seldom recognise the abuse they suffer as unlawful because they have been groomed from a young age. Sanghera said: "Nowhere in their psyche do they own the abuse as a criminal offence. They are not thought of as slaves but if you have not consented to that marriage - you will be raped in that relationship - that is sexual slavery.

"And with victims moved between countries for the purpose of exploitation, the link with trafficking is clear."

She said that although leaders including David Cameron and Theresa May had referred to forced marriage as a form of slavery, repeated calls to translate this into policy have been unsuccessful.


Sanghera added: "The crime has not been given the same spotlight as slavery but there remains a clear opportunity to raise the debate of forced marriage as part of the human trafficking agenda in the form of a national campaign."

The national police lead for "honour" crime, commander Ivan Balhatchet, said: "It is unfortunate to hear repeated stories of newly-married women, often in forced marriages, complaining of a form of modern slavery. Undoubtedly, there needs to be much more awareness to detect and prevent these abuses."

The Home Office said the government's forced marriage unit provided support in almost 1,200 potential cases last year. Since its introduction in 2008, there have been more than 1,500 forced marriage protection orders issued. "This week's forced marriage conviction shows that these appalling crimes do not have to be a hidden crime and, with the courage of victims, perpetrators will be prosecuted," it added.

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