FORCED marriage may be more frequent than first thought, according to a charity that dealt with 18 instances in Swindon last year.

Following the criminalisation of the practice last Monday, Karma Nirvana are bringing their roadshow to Swindon tomorrow to educate people about its dangers.

Offences are now punishable by between five and seven years in prison, and the charity say victims need to be given a space to come forward, which will lead to a rise in reports.

Anup Manota, project manager for Karma Nirvana, said: “We have seen an increase in reports this year especially, and professionals want to do a lot more now to tackle the problem. What we are seeing now is the campaign being fed down to lower community groups where the work is quite key.

“Historically people have been fearful of talking about it because they associate it with rape, and 40 per cent of our calls are from professionals who realise it is an issue in their area.

“Generally I think more awareness is needed, and we are creating that space for victims to come forward and share their experiences.”

The roadshow will be held from 1pm to 5pm at Emmanuel United Reform Church in Haydon Wick.