Forced Marriage and Arranged Marriage
There is a clear distinction between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage, but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement still remains with the prospective spouses. However, in forced marriage, one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. In the cases of vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent to marriage, coercion is not required for a marriage to be forced.
The provision of consent is essential within all marriages – only the spouses themselves will know if they their consent is provided freely.
If you have any concerns about the wellbeing or safety of any young person or child in our care please contact TWGSB's Safeguarding Officers: Amanda Simpson, Headteacher and Harriet Cameron, Welfare Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If families have to resort to violence or coercion alluded to above to make someone marry, that person’s consent has not been given freely and it is therefore considered a forced marriage.
Where a person lacks the capacity to consent to marriage, an offence is also capable of being committed by any conduct carried out with the purpose of causing the victim to marry, whether or not it amounts to violence threats or any other form of coercion.
Some Key motives for Forced Marriages
- Controlling unwanted sexuality (including perceived promiscuity, or being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) - particularly the behaviour and sexuality of women.
- Controlling unwanted behaviour, for example, alcohol and drug use, wearing make-up or behaving in, what is perceived to be, a “westernised manner”.
- Preventing "unsuitable" relationships, e.g. outside the ethnic, cultural, religious or caste group.
- Protecting “family honour” or “izzat”.
- Responding to peer group or family pressure.
- Attempting to strengthen family links.
- Achieving financial gain.
- Ensuring land, property and wealth remain within the family.
- Protecting perceived cultural ideals.
- Protecting perceived religious ideals which are misguided.
- Ensuring care for a child or adult with special needs when parents or existing carers are unable to fulfil that role.
- Assisting claims for UK residence and citizenship.
- Long-standing family commitments.
While it is important to have an understanding of the motives that drive parents to force their children to marry, these motives should not be accepted as justification for denying them the right to choose a marriage partner and enter freely into marriage.
Forced marriage is a form of violence against women and men, domestic abuse, a serious abuse of human rights, and where a minor is involved, child abuse.
Potential warning signs or indicators for school staff to look out for
- Absence and persistent absence.
- Request for extended leave of absence and failure to return from visits to country of origin.
- Fear about forthcoming school holidays
- Surveillance by siblings or cousins at school.
- Decline in behaviour, engagement, performance or punctuality.
- Poor exam results.
- Being withdrawn from school by those with parental responsibility.
- Removal from a day centre of a person with a physical or learning disability
- Not allowed to attend extra-curricular activities
- Sudden announcement of engagement to a stranger
- Prevented from going on to further/higher education
Where to get help:
Forced Marriage Unit (FMU)
The Forced Marriage Unit is a joint Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit. The FMU works with other government departments, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations to develop effective policy for tackling forced marriage. The FMU also has a caseworker who leads on cases involving people with learning disabilities.
The FMU runs an ongoing outreach programme raising awareness amongst frontline practitioners such as police, teachers, doctors, nurses and social workers across the UK. It also works in partnership with community organisations and voluntary organisations to tackle forced marriage. The FMU also provides an annual Domestic Programme Fund to support small projects to tackle forced marriage.
The FMU runs a public helpline that provides confidential advice and support to victims, and to practitioners handling cases of forced marriage. Caseworkers in the FMU have experience of the cultural, social and emotional issues surrounding forced marriage.
The FMU offers information and support to those who fear they will be forced into marriage and can discuss their options with them.
The FMU can assist British nationals facing forced marriage abroad by helping them to a place of safety and helping them to return to the UK.
The FMU can help those who have already been forced into marriage to explore their options, including assisting those who are being forced to sponsor a spouse’s visa for settlement in the UK.
The FMU is always happy to talk to frontline professionals handling cases of forced marriage at any stage in a case. It can offer further information and advice on the wide range of tools available to tackle forced marriage, including legal remedies, overseas assistance and how to approach victims. FMU staff can also speak at conferences or run training workshops to teams of frontline practitioners, and provide free leaflets and posters.
- Call: 020 7008 0151 (Mon-Fri: 09.00-17.00)
- Email: email@example.com
- Web: www.gov.uk/forced-marriage
Address: Forced Marriage Unit, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH
For all out of hours emergencies, please telephone 020 7008 1500 and ask to speak to the Global Response Centre.
Karma Nirvana: Supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage
- UK Helpline: 0800 5999 247
- Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm.
- If you are in immediate danger call 999
- Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
- Run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge
Ashiana Services: Ashiana Network offers specialist refuge, advice, support and counselling services for black and minority ethnic women and girls (14+) affected by domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, honour based violence, female genital mutilation and women who have no recourse to public funds.