What is “forced marriage” and who can help women at risk of forced marriage?
Forced marriage is a term used to describe “a marriage conducted without the valid consent of both people, where pressure or abuse is used” (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).
A forced marriage violates a person`s right to choose whether to enter a marriage or not. This is why, a forced marriage is essentially an abuse of your human rights.
! Remember, entering a marriage necessarily requires the full, free consent of both people. This is your right and there are institutions which can help you to protect it.
Forced marriage Unit (FMU)
The FMU is a joint-initiative between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK Home Office, designed to assist potential and existent victims of forced marriage with advice and protection.
How can the Forced Marriage Unit intervene in your case and help you?
-can offer confidential advice and assistance to, both, potential victims of forced marriage and women who have already been forced into marriage (regardless of their nationality).
-can arrange rescues and repatriation from overseas in order to prevent forced marriage
-can direct you to a safe environment to stay if you need to leave your home (usually “refuges”- this is a safe house, with confidential address and no access for men, for women and children escaping domestic violence).
-if you hesitate whether to act against being married forcibly due to fears of becoming homeless, the FMU will discuss with you options for accessing housing and advice services, as well as help with applying for benefits.
-if you have already been brought abroad and forced into marriage, the FMU can make arrangements for you to come back in the UK and can find you a place to stay before your return. You can be given a loan to help you with paying your ticket (which you will have to repay upon your return) and an emergency passport if your original one has been taken away from you (provided that you are a British national).
-might be able to refuse your spouse a visa to come to the UK, if you clearly indicate that you do not want him to join you in the UK.
Click here to check FMU`s advice for victims of forced marriage!
When contacting any or one of these institution, we would advise you to enquire about making a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
The Forced Marriage Protection Order is a legal document which states conditions on the behaviour of the person who is trying to force you into marriage. Failing to obey these orders can result in the person being sent to prison for up to two years.
Each Protection order is unique and tailored specifically according to the personal situation and needs of the victim (e.g., the court might order a person(s) to reveal their whereabouts, stop violence or intimidation towards another person, to hand over another person`s passport, to stop someone from taking someone else abroad). It can be made to protect people who already are into forced marriage.