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Forced marriage and 'honour based violence'

For advice, help and support on forced marriage and so called 'honour based violence'.

What is forced marriage?

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.

What is the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage?

There is a clear distinction between an 'arranged marriage' and a 'forced marriage'. An 'arranged marriage' is legal and is entered freely by both parties, although their families take a leading role in the choice of the partner. It becomes a 'forced marriage' when there is any form of duress. Forced marriage is a violation of human rights in itself, because it deprives victims of the ability to choose their own partner and to make basic decisions about their lives. It may also lead to other violations of human rights, including imprisonment, rape, domestic abuse and forced pregnancy. Many of the trigger factors are the same as for other forms of 'honour'-based violence.

Forced marriage is a form of abuse and should be treated as such. Cases should be tackled using existing structures, policies and procedures designed to safeguard children and victims of domestic abuse.

What is so-called 'honour-based violence'?

So called 'honour-based violence' is a crime, and a referral must always be made to the police. It has or may have been committed when families feel that dishonour has been brought to the family. Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims, and the violence is often committed with a degree of collusion from family members and/ or the community.

Many of these victims will contact police or other organisations.

Many are so isolated and controlled that they are unable to contact the police.

Where can I get help and support?

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you're trying to stop forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you've been forced into.

A trained professional will give you free advice on what to do next.They can also help you find a safe place to stay  and/or stop a UK visa if you've been forced to sponsor someone.

Three steps to escaping domestic violence read the leaflet the Home Office developed with Southall Black Sisters. This is aimed specifically at women in black and minority ethnic communities, covers advice on three steps to escaping violence and abuse.

What are forced marriage protection orders?

You can apply for a forced marriage protection order if one of the following applies:

  • you or someone else is being threatened with a forced marriage
  • you're in a forced marriage

The order will be designed to protect you according to your individual circumstances, e.g. to stop someone taking you out of the UK.

What should frontline professionals do? If you suspect someone is at risk of forced marriage or honour based violence then you should follow the local domestic abuse safeguarding policies and procedures.

External Links

Guidance Forced Marriage

Forced Marriage

Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage, June 2014

Karma Nirvana - Forced marriage helpline

Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board Procedures on Domestic Violence and Abuse

Sunderland safeguarding Adults Board Procedures on Domestic Violence and Safeguarding Adults, including Forced Marriage



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