Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence & Abuse – resources for practitioners

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 (for example, taking wages) can also be a factor.

A forced marriage should not be confused with an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages often work very well. Forced marriages are where one or both people are ‘forced’ into a marriage that their families want, without the valid consent of both people, where physical pressure or emotional abuse is used. Victims are sometimes persuaded to return to their country of origin under false pretences.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders have been introduced to protect victims from being forced into marriage. An order can also be made to protect someone who has already been forced into marriage, to help remove them from the situation.

Those who fail to obey an order may be found in contempt of court and sent to prison for up to two years.

Honour Based Violence and Abuse
Honour Based Violence and Abuse is an international term used by many cultures to justify abuse and violence. It is a crime or incident committed in order to protect or defend the family or community ‘honour’ (izzat).

Honour based violence and abuse may often be linked to forced marriages, although this is not always the case. Honour crimes and forced marriages are already covered by the law, and can involve a range of criminal offences.

Honour based violence and abuse is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims, which can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members.

Males can also be victims, sometimes as a consequence of their involvement in what is deemed to be an inappropriate relationship, if they are gay, or if they are believed to be supporting the victim.

Honour based violence and abuse cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities, usually where a culture is heavily male dominated. Relatives, including females, may conspire, aid, abet or participate in honour based abuse, for what might seem a trivial transgression.

It should be remembered cultural acceptance in some nationalities, does not mean accepting unacceptable practices and traditions.

Guidance for professionals – One Chance Rule & Forced Marriage Unit

Local guidance
Forced marriage is a safeguarding issue; it is a form of child abuse, domestic abuse and a breach of human rights. It can affect men as well as women, some may have disabilities and others may be spouses from overseas. It is therefore important to safeguard any child, young person or adult who may be, or has been subjected to a forced marriage.

The MSAB and MSCB have adopted the GMSP procedures.

These are supplemented by the local document One Chance – Manchester’s Forced Marriage Protocol (September 2018).

National guidance – the Forced Marriage Unit
All current information and practice guidelines for professionals protecting, advising and supporting victims of forced marriages can be found in the Forced Marriage Unit pages and on the gov.uk website including:

Publications and other resources
The FMU produces a number of free publications, which include a handbook, leaflets, cards, posters and video.

To download or order hard copies visit www.gov.uk/forced-marriage-unit

Additional sources of information

Forced Marriage Unit – Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Anyone who is worried about being forced into marriage or is worried about a friend can call 020 7008 0151 Mon to Fri, 9 to 5pm; out of hours call 020 70081500; or email fmu@fco.gov.uk; or visit the website www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage

The Forced Marriage Unit has released a film demonstrating the devastating impact of forced marriage on victims and their families. The film aims to raise public awareness of the issue and warns of the criminal consequences of involvement – you can view the film via this link.

End the Fear – Greater Manchester
Anybody who is experiencing domestic or sexual violence and abuse can find help, support and advice on this website. End the Fear also provide support to people who know someone who may be being abused. Read more on the website www.endthefear.co.uk/forced-marriage/

Freedom or Freedom Charity is a UK-based charity formed to give support to victims of forced marriage and violence upon women thought to have brought dishonour on the family. For further information visit the website  www.freedomcharity.org.uk.

Karma Nirvana is a UK registered Charity that supports victims and survivors of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse. It aims to raise public awareness on the issues, and provides education through accredited training, including seminars, conferences and workshops. It runs the National Honour Network Helpline where call handlers provide confidential listening support, options and guidance to all professionals, victims and survivors of honour based abuse. Call the Helpline on 0800 5999247 or visit the website www.karmanirvana.org.uk/

MixTogether is a charity that supports mixed couples (mixed race/ religion/ caste) who face opposition from family or community to their relationship. Find out more on their website www.mixtogether.org/

IKWRO the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation provides advice and support to Middle Eastern women and girls living in the UK who are facing ‘honour’ based violence, domestic abuse, forced marriage or female genital mutilation. Find out more on their website ikwro.org.uk/

National Domestic Violence Helpline (24 hour Freephone) run in partnership with Women’s Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. Call the Helpline on 0808 2000 247, email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk or visit the website www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

Simran’s Link is a community website to share views and link people in the situation of disownment. The specific connection to being disowned relates to the misplaced notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. They view ‘disownment’ in this context as an act of abuse against the human rights of an individual. This website is to support, befriend, and offer a positive community to people affected in this way. Find out more at www.simranslink.org/

Asha offers safe temporary accommodation for South Asian women and children fleeing domestic violence, including forced marriage. Asha also shares advice on benefits, housing and legal issues for women and offers training programmes. Find out more at www.ashaforcedmarriage.org.uk/

Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) works to improve the social justice and equality for Muslim women and girls. Visit their website www.mwnuk.co.uk/

Reducing the risk has lots of resources, some in languages other than English on their website at www.reducingtherisk.org.uk/

See also our Forced Marriage resources for parents, carers, families and the community and for children and young people.

Learning and Development

The Forced Marriage online learning tool can be found at: www.fgmelearning.co.uk – this Home Office site allows you to browse the site, access the online learning tool and further information relating to forced marriage.

The online course has been developed with the Forced Marriage Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office. It aims to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and inform you of the correct actions to take should you suspect someone is at risk.

After completing this training you will be able to:

  • recognise the warning signs of forced marriage
  • take the right actions to help protect the potential victim
  • co-operate effectively with other agencies.

Downloads on this page:

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