Forced marriage

Helping to understand forced marriage

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A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage, which may have been set up by a relative or friend, but has been willingly agreed to by the couple.

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.

The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) have outlined the following reasons why people coerce others into matrimony:

  • To control unwanted behaviour and sexuality, and prevent ‘unsuitable’ relationships, i.e. with people outside their ethnic, cultural, caste or religious group
  • To protect perceived cultural or religious ideals
  • Family ‘honour’ or long-standing family commitments
  • Peer group or family pressure
  • To ensure land, property and wealth remain in the family
  • To strengthen family links
  • To assist claims for residence and citizenship
  • To provide a carer for a disabled family member / reduce the ‘stigma’ of disability

Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales. This includes:

  • Taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
  • Marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)

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More information

Karma Nirvana – 0800 599 9247

Forced marriage unit – 020 7008 0151 (Out of hours 020 7008 1500)

North East Lincolnshire Women’s Aid – 01472 575757

National Domestic Violent Helpline – 0808 2000 247

Humberside Police Emergency  – 999

Humberside Police Non-emergency – 101

Housing advice (8.30am – 5.30pm) – 01472 326296 option 1

NELC Children’s Integrated Front Door – 01472 326292 option 2

Respect – 0808 802 4040