Forced marriage is a CRIME. It is a form of  domestic violence against women and men,  a serious abuse of human rights, and where a minor is involved, child abuse.

A 'forced' marriage (as distinct from a consensual "arranged" one) is defined as one, which is conducted without the valid consent of at least one of the parties and where duress is a factor. Duress cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds.

Forced marriage is primarily, but not exclusively, an offence of violence against women. Most cases involve young women between 13 and 30, although evidence suggests as many as 15% of victims are male.

While it is important to have an understanding of the motives that drive parents or families  to force their children or adults 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.

Right To Choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage: Azim

Right to Choose: the consequences of forced marriage

A person’s capacity to consent can change. With the right support and knowledge, a person with a learning disability may move from a position of lacking capacity to consent to marriage, to having capacity. However, some children and adults with learning disabilities are given no choice and/or do not have the capacity to give informed consent to marriage and all it entails.

One Chance Rule

All practitioners working with victims of forced marriage and HBV need to be aware of the “one chance‟ rule. That is, they may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and 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 become aware of potential forced marriage cases. If the victim is allowed to walk out the door without support being offered, that one chance might be wasted. 

Click here for HM Gov Awareness of Forced Marriage elearning course

Click here for Wolverhampton Forced Marriage Guidance May 2014

Click here for the HM Goverment's, Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage

Click here for the HM Goverment's, The Right to Choose: Multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage

Click here for Overarching Domestic Violence Protocol 2018

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