...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
A new report warns that government promises to tackle violence against women and girls will be meaningless unless forced marriage is addressed.
The independent review into faith engagement urges ministers not to ignore the issue of forced marriage, which has seen insufficient action taken against it to date.
The report highlights the need for the Forced Marriage Unit to be better resourced and to answer to a single department under a single secretary of state.
The report argues that tackling forced and coercive marriage should be a top priority, particularly given that many of those able to intervene – including teachers – appear either untrained or afraid to challenge social norms.
The review also calls on the government to do more to register and regulate out-of-school settings, and to ensure that the hardest-to-reach are held to account.
It suggests a mandatory safeguarding reporting regime, overseen by a centralised body.
The report also suggests that the government must reinforce the distinctions between extremist Islamism and Islam, and between Islamist extremists and Muslims.
It argues that greater understanding of faith in all its diversity will ensure that Britain remains a country that celebrates and understands people of all faiths, beliefs and none.
The report’s author, Colin Bloom, also accuses the Department for Education of being slow to respond to the problem of illegally unregistered faith-based schools.
Faith minister Baroness Scott welcomed the report, which has made a total of 22 recommendations to the government.
The review, which saw more than 21,000 people respond to a public consultation, was commissioned in 2019.