A girl of five has become the youngest victim of forced marriage, a shocking new report revealed.
She is one of 400 children in the UK to have been forced into marriage last year, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) said.
Under-18s made up 29% of 1500 forced marriage cases that the FMU dealt with last year, with the majority between the ages of 15 and 17.
An 87-year-old woman was the oldest person to have sought advice from the FMU related to a possible forced marriage.
Of those assisted by the unit, which is dedicated to the prevention of forced marriage both overseas and in the UK, 78% were female and 22% male
The FMU report showed that the majority of cases involved families from South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not consent to the union and pressure or abuse is used.
While it is not a criminal offence to force someone to enter a forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is illegal in Scotland.
[Related story: Cameron takes first step toward criminalising forced marriages]
David Cameron said last year he wants to see forced marriage criminalised and a public consultation on the matter is due to be published later in the year.
A video created by the British High Commission in Islamabad has been created to raise awareness on the issue of forced marriages.
The animated video entitled ‘Sara’s Story’ tells the tale of a young woman from Pakistan who is fresh out of a British university with a bright future ahead of her.
But when she returns to Pakistan she is coerced into an unhappy marriage with a man who is 15 years older than her while her parents just stand by.