Forced Marriage - What are the key motives to look for?

Lucy Whittaker
Lucy Whittaker

Published: June 5th, 2023

7 min read

What is a Forced Marriage?

A forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of either one of both parties. Force is not restricted to direct threats of violence and can include pressure and intimidation by threats, other psychological means and even financial abuse.

Any person may be forced into a marriage, including people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and religions.

Over the past 12 months in the UK, there were more than 400 victims forced into marriage (2022).

What is the UK Law on Forced Marriage?

In the UK, forced marriage is classed as domestic abuse and child abuse.

Under the Family Law Act 1996, the court can make a forced marriage order (also referred to as a FMPO) this can be used to protect the person who has been, or is being, forced into marriage.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, under Section 121, made it a criminal offence in England, Wales and Scotland to force someone to marry.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership Act 2022, which gained Royal Assent in April last year, made it a criminal offence to cause a child to marry, with a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Motivating factors associated with Forced Marriage

This list of reasons is not exhaustive and includes:

  • Unwanted behaviour, from those being forced to marry, for example: the persons may be involved with alcohol and drug use, wearing make-up or behaving in, what they perceive to be, an unsolicited manner; unwanted sexuality, including perceived promiscuity, or being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
  • To prevent what they may deem as unsuitable relationships, for example: relationships outside the ethnic, cultural, religious or 'caste' group.
  • To protected perceived cultural ideals, for example: protecting perceived religious ideals or protecting 'family honour'.
  • Responding to peer group or family pressure, for example: attempting to strengthen family links or long-standing family commitments.
  • To achieving financial gain, ensuring land, property and wealth remain within the family.
  • To assist with claims for UK residence and citizenship.
  • To diminish responsibility, for example: ensuring care for a child or adult with special needs when parents or existing carers are unable to fulfil that role.

There may well be other reasons why someone is forced into a marriage. People who are being forced into marriage face many problems. Privately, they may feel frightened, lonely and withdrawn.

If you recognise these behaviours and the aforementioned motives a good point of call is to contact organisations such as the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) and Karma Nirvana, a specialist charity. The Forced Marriage Unit operates a public helpline to provide advice and support.

Protect yourself from Forced Marriage

Anyone who risks being forced to marry can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, this is a legal document that will stop the individual from being taken out of the country. It can also help to bring the individual back to the UK if they have been taken out of the country. These restrictions can be in place indefinitely or expire when your court sees it necessary and safe to do so.

Forced Marriage Solicitors

We can assist in getting Forced Marriage Protection Orders to protect those who are in danger of being forced to marry against their will. To find out more about our specialist forced marriage solicitors click here or contact a member of the team on the details below.

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