This page provides advice to practitioners and managers to help them identify and deal with safeguarding those at risk of forced marriage.
1.1 A forced marriage is one in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some adults or young people with learning or physical disabilities or mental incapacity, cannot) consent to the marriage Handling Cases of Forced Marriage.
This force could involve threats of, or actual violence, or by putting psychological pressure on the victim (e.g. by suggesting that they will “shame” or “dishonour” their family if they do not comply) or by “tricking” the victim (e.g. taking them abroad without explaining the purpose).
2.1 Forced marriage is a criminal offence in England and Wales. This includes:
Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and falls within the Government’s definition of domestic violence. It is important to note that a forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage (where couple may be matched but where there is still a choice as to whether to marry or not). Victims of forced marriage can be both male and female.
2.2 Forced marriage can never be justified. However, reasons why a parent/family may consider forcing a child/young person into marriage are:
3.1 In 2019 the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) supported 1355 victims of forced marriage. Forced marriage is not specific to one country of culture and included cases relating to over 60 different countries Forced Marriage statistics 2019.
4. Gender of Victims
In 2019, 1,355 cases (75%) involved female victims and 262 (19%) involved male victims; in the remaining cases the gender of the victim was unknown.
This demonstrates that forced marriage is a crime which disproportionately affects women, but that it is also not an issue which only women face; men can also be forced into marriage.
5. Age of Victim
Information from the FMU 2019 would indicate that 34% of all cases dealt with within the UK are under 18 years of age.
6. UK regions where victims live
The North East region has relatively low numbers compared to regions such as London, however the number of victims has remained constant over recent years.
7. Potential indicators that forced marriage may occur/has occurred
8. Forced Marriage Protection Order
8.1 A Forced Marriage Protection Order can help if someone is: being forced into marriage; or already in a forced marriage.
8.2 A Forced Marriage Protection Order is unique to each case and contains legally binding conditions and directions that change the behaviour of a person or persons trying to force someone into marriage.
8.3 The aim of the order is to protect the person who has been, or is being, forced into marriage. The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway. The court can: Make a Forced Marriage Protection Order to protect a person facing forced marriage or who has been forced into marriage.
8.4 Applications for Forced Marriage Protection Orders can be made at the same time as a police investigation or other criminal proceedings. Someone who disobeys a court order can be sent to prison for up to two years for contempt of court; but breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order is also a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
9. Making a Referral
9.1 Cases of forced marriage can involve complex and sensitive issues that will require a multi-agency approach. For victims under the age of 18 years old a referral should be made to Children's Social Care - see Making Referrals to Children's Social Care Procedure. The Forced Marriage Unit can also be contacted for advice and help in making the referral.
9.2 Children’s Social Care services may approach the police and ask for their assistance in undertaking a joint investigation. A joint approach may be particularly useful where it is thought that a child or young person is at immediate risk of forced marriage.
Further information about forced marriage and the work of the FMU
karmanirvana.org.uk. UK Helpline: 0800 5999 247