Guidance

Forced marriage

Information and practice guidelines for professionals protecting, advising and supporting victims.

Overview

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.

Information for people directly affected by forced marriage is also available.

Forced Marriage Unit

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit was which set up in January 2005 to lead on the Government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. It operates both inside the UK, where support is provided to any individual, and overseas, where consular assistance is provided to British nationals, including dual nationals.

The FMU operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as to professionals dealing with cases. The assistance provided ranges from simple safety advice, through to aiding a victim to prevent their unwanted spouse moving to the UK (‘reluctant sponsor’ cases), and, in extreme circumstances, to rescues of victims held against their will overseas.

The FMU undertake an extensive outreach and training programme of around 100 events a year, targeting both professionals and potential victims. The FMU also carry out media campaigns, such as 2012’s ‘right to choose’ summer campaign, where the FMU commissioned three short films to raise awareness amongst young people at risk of being taken overseas for forced marriage.

Contact

Statistics on Forced Marriage collected by FMU

Statistics on forced marriage for 2013 (PDF, 156KB, 1 page)

Statistics on forced marriage for 2012 (PDF, 154KB, 1 page)

Guidance for professionals

The Right to Choose:Multi-Agency Statutory Guidance for dealing with forced marriage

  • Statutory guidance issued under section 63Q of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. Guidance is for all persons and bodies who exercise public function in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.

Multi-Agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of forced marriage

  • Step-by-step advice for frontline workers. Essential reading for health professionals, educational staff, police, children’s social care, adult social services and local authority housing

Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities: Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines

  • Developed to help professionals dealing with forced marriage of people with learning disabilities.
  • The guidance was developed (in English and Welsh) with learning disability charities the Ann Craft Trust and the Judith Trust.

2010 Review of implementation of statutory guidance across public agencies in England and Wales

eLearning training for professionals

  • The e-learning training package to support professionals, including education, social and health care professionals, police officers, housing officers, the voluntary sector and others dealing with forced marriage in the course of their work.
  • Using real life case studies, the training gives professionals a basic understanding of the main issues surrounding forced marriage, how cases can present and how to respond appropriately.
  • This tool complements the multi-agency practice guidelines for professionals and should be read alongside the training.

Guidance for Members of Parliament and constituency offices

We are keen that MPs and their staff are aware of how best they can work to support constituents who may be facing forced marriage. Guidance above provides background information on forced marriage and describes best practice for supporting victims and dealing with their families.

Outreach programme

The FMU runs an outreach programme across the UK to raise awareness of forced marriage. FMU has delivered outreach events to a number of statutory agencies and other organisations across a range of sectors, including:

  • Local Authority Safeguarding Teams across England and Wales
  • Police Forces across England and Wales
  • The UK Judiciary
  • Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) across England and Wales
  • Women’s Aid
  • Victim Support
  • A variety of Charities and NGOs
  • A number of secondary schools and colleges across England and Wales
  • A number of Airport officials across the UK, including UKBA and Airline Carrier staff

If you would like us to attend your event, please fill out a speaker request form and email it back to us.

We would also be grateful for your feedback on our outreach programme if we come to speak at your event. Please complete our short survey.

Domestic Programme Fund

The Domestic Programme Fund (DPF) provides funding to charities for small projects in the UK. The FMU recognises that protecting victims and ending forced marriage can only be achieved if all partners across government, non-governmental organisations and statutory agencies work collectively. The DPF supports this joined-up approach by encouraging and enabling voluntary organisations to contribute further to protect victims and end the abusive act of forced marriage.

Who is eligible?

Project implementers must be registered charities – please note that small charities are also welcome. Partnership with other NGOs or statutory bodies is also strongly encouraged; however the lead organisation must be a registered or small charity. Applications led by local government organisations will not be considered under any circumstances. We will consider part-funding larger projects – don’t be afraid to alert us of funding you are receiving from other sources. If you have previously received funding from the DPF, you will be ineligible to bid for further funding if you have failed to submit your final evaluation report to the FMU.

Bidding process

The DPF bidding round for 2013/14 is now closed. Please check this page next year for details on how to apply the next round of funding.

Our publications and other resources

The FMU has a number of free publications. These range from leaflets and posters to statutory and practice guidelines. If you would like to order hard copies of these publications, please email your request stating:

  • which publications you would like (please see list below)
  • how many of each
  • your full postal address and a contact number

While there are no set limits on how many copies you can order, we ask that you think realistically about how many you need. If we are unable to send you part of your order, we will contact you to let you know. We aim to dispatch all requests within 10 working days. Alternatively, you can download copies:

Leaflets

Cards

  • Marriage: it’s your choice: (PDF, 231KB, 2 pages) these are business-card sized and contain contact details for the FMU. They can be given to any potential victim. They are small enough to be placed in wallets/purses

Forced Marriage posters

Handbook

Forced Marriage: A Survivors Handbook

Guidance

The right to choose: multi-agency statutory guidance

Handling cases of forced marriage: multi-agency practice guidelines (English)

Handling cases of forced marriage: multi-agency practice guidelines (Welsh) (not available to order in hard copy)

Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities: multi-agency practice guidelines (English) (PDF, 586KB, 32 pages)

Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities: multi-agency practice guidelines (Welsh) (not available to order in hard copy) (PDF, 350KB, 25 pages)

Additional resources

Animated documentaries

The British High Commission in Islamabad has commissioned short animated documentaries on the issue of forced marriages in Pakistan in an attempt to raise awareness of this human rights violation, the consequences of which include domestic abuse, divorce, honour killings, child abduction, abandonment, isolation, and family break-ups.

Sara’s story

Sara’s story

Farzana’s story

Farzana’s story

Shazia’s story

Shazia’s story

But It’s Not Fair by Aneeta Prem, is a fictional account of different perspectives on forced marriages that’s useful reading for school children and teachers.

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