A forced marriage is when one or both parties do not, or in the case of people with learning difficulties, cannot, consent to the marriage.
This is not the same as an arranged marriage, where people have a choice about whether to accept the arrangement or not.
Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights.
Both physical and emotional abuse may be used to coerce people into marriage.
If you are worried that you might be forced into a marriage or are concerned for someone else please contact us.
We understand that people maybe frightened or feel disloyal to family and community for speaking out. We want to reassure you that should you choose to take that step, you will be supported at every stage. Your views and safety will be taken into account throughout.
If you are worried that you or someone you know is a victim or at risk of Forced Marriage please contact us immediately – call 999 if there is an immediate risk - report online or call us on 101.
You can report to us anonymously – we will still record and investigate offences if you do not want to give us your details.
Reasons given for Forced Marriage
- Controlling unwanted behaviour and sexuality (including perceived promiscuity, or being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans) particularly the behaviour / sexuality of women.
- Protecting “family honour”.
- Responding to peer group / family pressure.
- Attempting to strengthen family links.
- Ensuring land, property, wealth remain within the family.
- Protecting perceived religious and cultural ideals.
- Preventing “unsuitable” relationships, e.g. outside ethnic, cultural, religious group.
- Assisting residence and citizenship claims.
- Fulfilling long-standing family commitments.
Education: Truancy, decline in performance, not participating in extra-curricular activities, being withdrawn from education.
Health: Self harm, attempted suicide, eating disorders, depression, isolation, substance misuse.
Family history: Siblings forced to marry, family disputes, unreasonable restrictions, running away from home.
Employment: Poor performance, limited career choices, unable to attend business trips, financial control, poor attendance, prevented from working.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made Forced Marriage and Breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order criminal offences.
- Criminalises the act of forcing someone to marry against their will.
- Criminalises the act of luring of a person to a territory of a state for the purpose of forcing them to enter into marriage without consent.
- Criminalises the act of using deception with the intention of causing a person to leave the UK with the intention of forcing that person to marry.
- Criminalises the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO).
If a person lacks the capacity to consent, the offence is also capable of being committed by any conduct carried out for the purpose of causing the victim to marry, whether or not it amounts to violence, threats or any other form of coercion.
Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO)
An FMPO can help if:
- You’re being forced into marriage.
- You’re already in a Forced Marriage.
The aim of an FMPO is to protect the person who has been or is being forced into marriage. The order is unique to each case and contains legally binding conditions / directions that change the behaviour of persons trying to force the marriage.
The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway. There is a maximum penalty of 7 years for committing a forced marriage offence and a maximum penalty of 5 years for the breach of an FMPO.
We have specially-trained officers in our Safeguarding Investigation Units who will investigate any information in relation to a forced marriage.
Advice and Support
The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint initiative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office. Their trained professionals offer confidential advice and assistance to:
- those who have been or are at risk of being forced into marriage.
- people worried about friends.
- relatives, professionals working with actual or potential victims of forced marriage.
You can contact the FMU by calling 020 7008 0151 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom Charity empowers young people to feel they have the tools and confidence to support each other around the issues of family relationships which can lead to early and Forced Marriage, honour based abuse, and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Telephone 0845 607 0133
The Honour Network Helpline is a dedicated helpline for victims and professionals. All call-handlers have experience in risk assessing cases of forced marriages and honour based abuse. Telephone 0800 5999 247 - Open 9:30am – 5pm, Monday – Friday. Provided by the charity Karma Nirvana.
Southall Black Sisters provides advice and services to enable black and minority women to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to assert their human rights. Telephone 020 8571 9595