Aneeta visits special needs school to talk about forced marriage and her book But It’s Not Fair.
Last week I was privileged to go to County Durham to talk about forced marriage at a special needs school. As we approached in the car the views were completely breath taking.
Unusually Google maps, which is normally a trusted friend on my phone, decided to take us to every school rather than the one we should have attended.
Finally we arrived after six and a half hours in the car. The wish to have personal helicopter seemed higher up the list of ‘must haves’ – boy do we need a rich sponsor.
The young people I met, who had a variety of special needs, were all completely lapping up and attentive to every word. Their engaging questions were challenging and thought provoking. I spoke about the dangers of forced marriage and although on the surface one could argue — why would a school with a majority of Anglo-Saxon pupils need to learn about these dangers? — the sad truth is those with special needs are at a higher risk.
They may not have the capacity to agree to a marriage and for a variety of reasons are forced into marriage. Immigration, money, control and having a full-time carer — these are just the start of the list of possible reasons why parents force their children into marriage.
Even though I was mobbed, the book signing was fun. There were no shortage of entrepreneurs amongst the young people who were looking for extra copies of But It’s Not Fair, my novel on forced marriage, no doubt to sell on e-bay later that evening. I wanted to say – if you donate the money to Freedom charity from the book sale – after you’ve read it – it’s not so bad!
The teacher training, which the whole school took part in, really proved how useful and how essential it is not just to pay lip-service and tick boxes when learning about the issues of forced marriage. I think I was a bit overshadowed by the schools therapeutic dog who joined me on stage while speaking. Being a true professional I stopped talking at the end to play with the dog.