Information and guidance on what to do if someone is at risk of forced marriage.

Forced marriage is when the victim faces physical, emotional or psychological pressure to marry. For example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence or being made to feel like they are bringing shame on their family.

Call 999 if it’s an emergency or someone is in immediate danger.

Honour based violence and forced marriage is a crime. In the UK it is illegal to:

  • pressure or force someone into marriage
  • taking someone overseas to force them to marry
  • marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage.

The Forced Marriage Unit

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as professionals dealing with cases. The assistance provided ranges from simple safety advice, through to aiding a victim to prevent their unwanted spouse moving to the UK (‘reluctant sponsor’ cases), and, in extreme circumstances, to rescues of victims held against their will overseas.

The FMU welcomes enquiries from frontline practitioners handling cases of forced marriage at any stage in a case. It can offer information and advice on the range of tools available to combat forced marriage, including: legal remedies, overseas assistance and how to approach victims.

For advice and support, if you or someone you know at risk of forced marriage, call Live Fear Free on 0808 80 10 800 or e-mail info@livefearfreehelpine.wales.

Victims taken overseas

For those that have been taken overseas already, You can also call the British Embassy or High Commission of the country they are in, who will work with the Forced Marriage Unit in Britain to try and get them home safely. 

Find a British Embassy overseas on GOV.UK.

Offering advice to the victim

It is important that all professionals can signpost victims appropriately and offer immediate safety advice to clients. This forms the basis of more detailed safety planning and may include the following:

  • Ensuring the client knows to call 999 in an emergency.
  • Have details of local specialist services and the Live Fear Free Helpline on hand to share with clients.
  • Advise the client to try and keep their mobile phone with them at all times.
  • Encourage the client to engage with services which can help them and their children.
  • Engage in multi agency discussions such as local MARACs or the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

Training

The National Training Framework can provide training on:

  • basic awareness of what violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is
  • how to recognise domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • help available to victims
  • communicating sensitively to victims.