Forced marriage campaigner

148. Aneeta Prem (London)

A woman from East London who has campaigned tirelessly to end forced marriage in the UK is the winner of a new volunteering award, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.

10 Downing Street

Aneeta Prem, a magistrate who specialises in family, adult and youth law, set up the Norwich based Freedom Charity in 2010 after encountering the issue of forced marriage while running karate classes in East London. One of her teenage pupils disappeared suddenly from her class. Aneeta later learnt she had been forced into an arranged marriage in Pakistan, where she was raped and beaten by her husband, and had eventually committed suicide. Inspired by her pupil’s story Aneeta formed Freedom Charity. The Charity has since reached over 20,000 children and young people, working with schools and local authorities to educate all backgrounds about forced marriage and help to raise awareness of modern day slavery.

Freedom Charity runs a 24/7 helpline manned by trained professionals offering support and advice. The charity works with schools to develop courses, lesson plans, workshops and activities which are consistent with the National Curriculum. It also played an important role in rescuing three women from 30 years of slavery in Brixton when one of the women called their helpline.

Aneeta has also written a children’s book “But It’s Not Fair” that has reached over 20,000 people and developed an app that has been downloaded thousands of times, both aimed at raising awareness of forced marriage and honour-based violence.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Tonight the GG2 Awards will highlight the diversity of achievement, talent and leadership within our Asian communities in the UK. From a whole host of truly inspirational people, Aneeta is one individual that stands out for me thanks to the important work she has done to raise awareness of forced marriage. I am delighted to name Aneeta the 148th UK Point of Light.”

Forced Marriage Unit at the Foreign Office said:

“The Forced Marriage Unit is delighted to congratulate Aneeta Prem on winning this award for her outstanding work on combating forced marriage. Aneeta has made significant difference to the understanding of forced marriage; and has made a valuable contribution to ensuring a more efficient service for victims and potential victims. This award is thoroughly well-deserved.”

Aneeta said:

“I am  honoured to receive this award from the Prime Minister in recognition for the work I’ve done for Freedom Charity, which has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and prevent  dishonour abuse, forced marriage, FGM  and modern day slavery. The Prime Minister has shone a light on these dark areas of our society, which are an abuse of human rights, and ensured that forced marriage, FGM and modern day slavery are brought into the public domain to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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