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DEFINITION

According to "A choice by Right" – the report of the working group on forced marriage published by the Home Office in 2000 - a Forced marriage "(FM)" is a marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties, where some element of duress is a factor. This is different from an arranged marriage, which is a respected tradition in many cultures.

 

WHY DO FORCED MARRIAGES HAPPEN

o   To control unwanted behaviour and sexuality ("corrective" FM for gay men or lesbians)

o   Peer group/family pressure

o   To protect a perceived cultural or religious ideal

o   As an attempt to strengthen family links

o   To provide a carer for a disabled person

o   To assist claims for residence/citizenship

o   To ensure that the land remain in a certain family group

o   To protect the family honour by obliging commitments made many
years before
 
CHALLENGES

The main challenge when dealing with FM is to understand the risk of family mediation. Family mediation may increase the risk to the victims rather than help them.

It is important in case the victim decides to return to the family that she/he is aware of the risks and to establish a safety plan.
 
If you suspect someone you know may be victim of forced marriage please look out for these signs

 

LEGAL OVERVIEW IN THE UK

In 2005 a consultation took place on whether or not to introduce a specific criminal offence for FM. In the end it was decided not to treat FM as a criminal offence. Other crimes generally accompany FM such as kidnapping, rape, assault, murder. However the main reason not to treat FM as a criminal offence is to facilitate report as it was feared that by treating FM as a criminal offence the number of reports would lower even more.

 

Civil Protection Orders came into effect with The Forced Marriage Act, on the 25/11/2008. A breach of the Order is treated like Contempt of Court. This enables the victim to apply for an injunction at county court.
 
If you want to learn more about FM go to http://fmelearning.co.uk

 

HISTORY OF THE FORCED MARRIAGE UNIT (FMU)

The Unit was established in 2005 and has three main areas of work:

 

1.      Developing of policies

2.      Raising awareness

3.      Case work (domestic and consular)

 

The Unit has two Heads of Unit (one for the Foreign Office group set up in 1999 and which deals with cases abroad, and one for the Home Office group formed in 2000 which deals with cases in the UK).

 

Their lines are open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm (020 7008 0151). They also have an out-of-hours emergency number (020 7008 1500). In addition to this emails and text messages can be used used to communicate directly with victims.

Callers are generally the victims themselves or their friends but professionals can also call for advice or on behalf of a victim is this is requested.

 

The FMU works with agencies to support them and to help develop safety plans for the victim. If the victim is decides to leave for safety, it is recommended that she/he is relocated as far as possible from their original location and that they immediately inform the Police of their situation in case the victim's family reports her/him missing.

 

WHO IS AFFECTED

Between January 2009 and September 2010 the FMU received 1241 calls. 87% of callers were female and 13% were male.

The majority of cases reported to the FMU come from Pakistan Bangladesh and India. However cases have also been reported from Cyprus, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Somalia and several European countries.

The FMU has received a total of 94 calls from the East Midlands between January 2009 and September 2010.
 
To learn more on Forced Marriage Unit click here

 

To discuss your concerns for someone please click here for local services
 
 
Click here for the Multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage
 
 
 
For more information about FM go to www.forcedmarriage.net