Forced Marriage is exactly that; forcing someone to marry against their will. Forced marriage can involve physical, financial, sexual and emotional abuse, with victims being subjected to assault, rape, kidnap and false imprisonment.

With an estimated 8,000 young women in Britain forced into marriage each year, legislation introduced in June 2014 made forced marriage a criminal offence. It is designed to support those in England and Wales who are at risk of forced marriage, as well as UK nationals who are overseas and carries with it a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

The new legislation allows law enforcement agencies to pursue those who break the law in other countries where the forced marriage involves a UK national. It also makes forcing a UK national into a marriage with another person in a foreign country a crime for the first time.

The new criminal legislation also works alongside current civil legislation, which allows victims to choose whether to pursue a criminal or a civil option through a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

These orders can already be given by the civil courts against a person who is suspected of trying to force a person into marriage. The new legislation has increased the maximum penalty for a breach of a forced marriage protection order to five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the following when the new law was introduced:

“Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported. I am proud to say that the UK is already a world-leader in the fight to stamp out this harmful practice with the government’s Forced Marriage Unit working hard to tackle this terrible practice in the UK and overseas.”

Forced Marriage Training Course Coming Soon

The Safeguarding Children e-Academy are currently working with the Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage Unit to produce a course that raises awareness of forced marriage by educating people on the warning signs, how to take the right action to protect the victim and working effectively with other agencies.

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