U.K. Eyes Forced Marriages in Students' School Absences

More than 30 children have been absent for at least two months from school rosters in an English city and officials fear they may have been forced into arranged marriages, The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

The 33 students have been absent without explanation from schools in Bradford, northern England, which The Mail reports has a substantial Asian population.

"It is a serious concern when any child, any single child, becomes unaccounted for," said Children's Minister Kevin Brennan, who on Tuesday released the findings before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which is probing forced marriages in at least 14 other areas of the country.

A spokesman for the department of children, schools and families said forced marriages have been reported in Bradford, but there is no evidence the children in question had been forced to wed, The Daily Mail reports.

A Bradford schools spokesman said it is possible the children’s families had moved away and their parents failed to register them at their new schools, the story reports.

Three years ago the government instituted the national Forced Marriage Unit to combat "an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence."

Laws are going into effect this summer to let victims obtain court injunctions against anyone attempting to force them to marry, The Daily Mail reported.

In responding to the Bradford figures, Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said in The Mail story: "The figures you have given us quite frankly have shocked members of this committee just in relation to Bradford. ... This is totally unsatisfactory."

Click here for more on this story from The Daily Mail.