Guidance

Forced marriage

How to protect, advise and support victims of forced marriage information and practice guidelines for professionals.

Recognise a forced marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities or reduced capacity, cannot) consent to the marriage as they are pressurised, or abuse is used, to force them to do so. It is recognised in the UK as a form of domestic or child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will may be:

  • physical: for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence
  • emotional and psychological: for example, making someone feel like they are bringing shame on their family

Financial abuse, for example taking someones wages, may also be a factor.

How the Forced Marriage Unit can help

The Forced Marriage Unit remains in operation during coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit which leads on the governments 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 safety advice, through to helping a forced marriage victim prevent their unwanted spouse moving to the UK (reluctant sponsor cases). In extreme circumstances the FMU will assist with rescues of victims held against their will overseas.

The FMU undertakes an extensive training and awareness programme targeting both professionals and potential victims, and carries out a range of work to raise awareness.

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