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.

Forced marriage is a CRIME. It 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.

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.

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.

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

Right to Choose: the consequences of forced marriage

Right to choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage - Nayana

 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. 

Forced Marriage is a Child Protection issue. Children’s Social Care has a duty to investigate allegations of abuse and is seen as one of the agencies with a key role to play in the statutory guidance of “Handling Cases of Forced Marriage”. If an allegation of forced marriage is made, or a child/young person discloses that they are at risk, a section 47 investigation should take place. This will be done without parental consent

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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