Forced marriage is illegal and can cause both physical and emotional trauma to victims. Shaheen Marriott, Family and Child Law Solicitor, answers some frequently asked questions on the issue that is Forced Marriage below.

What are the signs of forced marriage?

It can be hard to spot, as arrangements are often made in secret. This is to ensure that the victim does not know they are being set up to be married. Common indicators of risk can be:

  • A young person being removed from education or being prevented from engaging with further education.
  • A sudden 'engagement' to somebody who has not been previously mentioned or is a complete stranger.
  • A sudden family holiday abroad.
  • A young person appears to be 'watched' or overlooked by their family. For example, they are collected from school, prevented from going out or having free access to things such as a mobile phone or the internet. 
  • a young person may present a change in their personality whereby they appear withdrawn or depressed/anxious to peers.

What is a forced marriage called?

A forced marriage is sometimes referred to as an 'arranged marriage'. However, a forced marriage is where an individual is given no choice about the marriage.

An arranged marriage can be done with the individual's knowledge and consent to the arrangement, and can involve the individual's families and social groups when selecting a potential partner.

A forced marriage is a marriage which takes place against your will. It can be a marriage that you agreed to, but only due to having no choice in the matter or made to do under pressure from family, social or religious groups. 

What countries have forced marriages?

Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are typically linked to the concept of forced marriages, however, it is important to be alert to the issue as it can (and does) take place in Western Countries as well.

What is a Forced Marriage Protection Order?

It is an order made to protect a person who has been, is at risk of, or is being forced into a marriage against their will. The order will impose restrictions against family members to prevent them from being able to carry out the marriage. It can also put in place other measures, such as the surrender of passports.

It is usual practice to serve the Court Order on the Passport Office to that any attempt by the family to remove the victim from the Country can be prevented. Orders can be made as part of other family court proceedings or as an application, and often are considered without the respondents being told in advance. This is to ensure that the order is there to protect the person at risk first. Breaches of these orders can lead to arrest and prosecution. 

What is the Forced Marriage Act?

You can obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order under the Family Law Act 1996 and the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. These acts were brought in to give the Court the power to make orders to protect people at risk of forced marriage. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made forced marriage a criminal offence in England, Scotland and Wales. 

If you have any further queries on the above, or are looking to obtain legal support and guidance, please contact Shaheen Marriott based in our Sevenoaks office on 020 3551 8443. Alternatively, you can contact us here.

Shaheen Marriott
Shaheen Marriott

What Organisations Can Assist You?

There are many organisations that are able to provide support and assistance to victims of forced marriage. If it is an emergency, it is always advised to call 999 in the first instance.

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit as well as charities such as Refuge and Childline for further help and guidance. 

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