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Forced marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. 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. This guide provides information for professionals protecting the victims of forced marriage. It also gives details of financial support for charities and awareness-raising publications. Information for people directly affected by forced marriage is also available.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is raising awareness about forced marriage across the public sector. They provide expert advice to professionals, especially those confronted by forced marriage for the first time:

We(FMU) do a broad programme of public speaking and outreach work – email for more information
if a personal visit isn’t possible, we can send you copies of our publications to help you give presentations yourselves.
We(FMU) can train your staff in how they can help victims of forced marriage
We(FMU) have started an awareness-raising programme for registrars
We(FMU) have produced multi-agency guidelines for the police, children and adult social care, health, housing and education professionals

Forced marriage and learning disabilities: multi-agency practice guidelines

These practice guidelines have been developed to help professionals dealing with forced marriage of people with learning disabilities. The guidance was developed (in English and Welsh) with learning disability charities the Ann Craft Trust and the Judith Trust. It is designed to help raise awareness of the issue and support practitioners in identifying the warning signs of this complex and often hidden practice. The guidelines also explain what practitioners should do in these cases.

Warning signs

Young people rarely feel able to disclose their feelings about forced marriage. However there are some warning signs that may indicate the possibility of an impending forced marriage: extended absence from school/college, truancy, drop in academic performance, low motivation, excessive parental restriction and control of movements, and history of siblings leaving education early to marry poor attendance in the workplace, poor performance, parental control of income and limited career choices evidence of self-harm, treatment for depression, attempted suicide, social isolation, eating disorders or substance abuse evidence of family disputes/conflict, domestic violence/abuse or running away from home A young person demonstrating any of the above may not be necessarily at risk, but if you feel concerned about a potential forced marriage you should contact Force Marriage Unit UK 020 7008 0151 or Contact PAHAL.

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