Deepa Mattoo, The 3rd Annual Spirit Of Barbra Schlifer Award Winner, And Farrah Khan, Schlifer Clinic Counsellor and Advocate, spoke with Catherine Porter of the Toronto Star about their innovative work on forced marriage and why criminalizing forced marriage as a separate criminal code offence will make it more difficult for survivors to seek support.


The wrong way to tackle forced marriages

By: Catherine Porter Columnist, Columnist, Published on Fri Jun 05 2015

“The law in Canada creates a narrative that this is a problem about faith and community,” said Farrah Khan, a counsellor with the Barbra Schlifer clinic. “It’s violence. That’s the problem.”

For the past two years, Mattoo and Khan have been training social workers, guidance counsellors, police officers and other service providers across Canada about forced marriage — how to detect it and how to devise safety plans for young women who sense they’ll be victims.

The solution, they say, is public education and a safety net for women fleeing attempted forced marriages.

Money should be put into counselling services, they say.

If any laws are passed, they should be ones that insist shelters accept young women escaping attempted forced marriages (many still don’t, according to both Khan and Mattoo), and social workers bump them to the top of the waiting list for social housing, as women fleeing family violence. (It now depends on the worker, Khan and Mattoo said.)”

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