A forced marriage is a marriage that happens without the full and free consent of both people. ‘Force’ can include:
‘Forced marriages’ are not the same as ‘arranged marriages’. In an arranged marriage, families take the lead in selecting and introducing a marriage partner. The couple have free will and are given the choice to accept or reject the arrangement.
Forced marriage is a criminal offence in England and Wales and will carry a maximum custodial sentence of seven years imprisonment. This includes taking someone abroad for a forced marriage and people without the mental capacity to consent.
Below are some warning signs that may indicate the possibility of an impending forced marriage:
One Chance rule indicates that practitioners working with victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence need to be aware they may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and thus they may only have one chance to save a life. This means that all practitioners working within statutory agencies need to be aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across forced marriage cases.
Mediation, reconciliation and family counselling as a response to forced marriage can be extremely dangerous. Professionals undertaking these activities may unwittingly increase the victim’s vulnerability and place them in danger.
What help is available:
A victim of forced marriage, or somebody else on their behalf, can apply to a court in England and Wales for a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
This order is granted by a judge and can be used to prevent someone being forced into a marriage or to protect someone who has already been the victim of a forced marriage.
The order aims to change the behaviour of anyone who is trying to force someone into marriage. It is a legal document and places conditions on their behaviour. If they disobey the order, they could be arrested and sent to prison for up to five years.
For advice and assistance making applications for FMPOs, please contact Norfolk MASH on 0344 800 8020.
For more information on forced marriage you can visit the Forced Marriage Unit website.
The Forced Marriage Unit offers confidential advice and assistance to:
The above guidance is for the use of everyone with a responsibility for safeguarding.