Sunday 15 June 2014

'Sunday' - Forced Marriage

Longstanding readers of Is the BBC biased? may recall an old regular feature - the citing of an unchanging 'set menu' for the Radio 4 Sunday programme, suggesting that the programme usually consisted of the following standard fare:
"the usual diet of breaking news from the Arab world, Christian-related abuse stories, bad news about the Catholic Church, something about human rights, the usual airing of Muslim grievances, a call for something or other by a left-wing campaign group, an Anglican row over something, that sort of thing"
Well, here's today's running order, It quotes the Sunday website [complete with its usual spelling mistakes], except for item 2 - a late addition. How many can you tick off from that menu?:
  1. Fawaz Gerges from London School of Economics analyses the recent events, who are ISIS and what role is religion playing in the latest crisis. 
  2. Justin Welby is in Rome to talk about the modern slavery campaign with the Pope.
  3. There is concern in the Church of England that Bats are turning historic church bulidings into "bat barns" Anne Sloman, Chair of of the Church of England church building council and Stephen Rudd from Natural England debate the issues. 
  4. Our correspondent in Santiago Gideon Long reports on the story of adopted children sold by the Catholic church. 
  5. Ahead of a new law coming into force criminalising forced marriage in England and Wales, Jasvinder Sanghera, speaks to William Crawley about how the new law will affect faith communities in the UK and whether it is likely to encourage victims to come forward.
  6. With the World Cup under way, Mark Dowd Catholic writer and broadcaster speaks about the relationship between faith and football. 
  7. Bob Walker meets up with a cross-section of young British Muslims gathering opinions on the government's approach to Islam in the shadow of the Trojan Horse enquiry. This is followed by a debate between Oliver McTernan from 'Forward Thinking' and Haras Rafiq from Quilliam foundation.
On the Iraq item, Prof. Gerges described ISIS being "on the far-right of al-Qaeda" and described Tony Blair's statement about the present situation having nothing to do with the 2003 US/British-led invasion as "rubbish", saying that the invasion "opened the gates of Hell".

On the new law outlawing forced marriage in England and Wales, Jasvinder Sanghera, the leading campaigner for the law, described her personal experiences of forced marriage. She comes from a Sikh background. Checking around afterwards, the government's own statistics on forced marriage in the UK (from January to December 2013) make striking reading: 
  • The FMU [Forced Marriage Unit] gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in  in 1302 cases. 
  • Where the age was known, 15% of cases involved victims below 16 years, 25% involved victims aged 16-17, 33% involved victims aged 18-21, 15% involved victims aged 22-25, 7% involved victims aged 26-30, 3% involved victims aged 31+. 
  • 82% of cases involved female victims and 18% involved male victims. 
  • The FMU handled cases involving 74 different countries, including Pakistan (42.7%), India (10.9%), Bangladesh (9.8%), Afghanistan (2.8%), Somalia (2.5%), Iraq (1.5%), Nigeria (1.1%), Saudi Arabia (1.1%), Yemen (1%), Iran (0.8%), Tunisia (0.8%), The Gambia (0.7%), Egypt (0.6%) and Morocco (0.4%). The origin was unknown in 5.4% of cases. 
  • Within the UK the regional distribution was: London 24.9%, West Midlands 13.6%, South East 9.9%, North West 9.3%, Yorkshire and Humberside 6.8%, East Midlands 4.2%, East Anglia 3.5%, Scotland 2.9%, North East 2%, South West 1.6%, Wales 1.6%, Northern Ireland 0.3%. The region was unknown in 19.4% of cases. 
The government stats don't break the figures down by religion, but we can all do the sums and work out roughly where the balance between Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism really lies from the above figures.  

Bob Walker's report with that "cross-section of young British Muslims" didn't so much gather opinions "on the government's approach to Islam in the shadow of the Trojan Horse enquiry {sic}" but rather on the media's portrayal of Muslims. The "cross-section" all felt aggrieved by that. They don't think there's that much of a problem at all. The discussion between Oliver McTernan from 'Forward Thinking' and Haras Rafiq from Quilliam followed a predictable path with Mr Rafiq saying that Islam itself isn't the problem but that Islamism - a "perverted" version of Islam - is, and with Mr McTernan complaining that even that was going too far and is unfair to Muslims. 

Typical Sunday.

h/t David McAndrews

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