Here, you can find information about forced marriage and advice on what to do if you think that you or someone you know may be at risk.
What is a forced marriage?
A marriage is forced if one or both people marrying don’t truly want to. Most victims of forced marriage are female but many men are also victim.
Where do forced marriages take place?
The practice is common in South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. Forced marriage also takes place in East Asian, African and various European communities.
Anybody, from any background, could be victim to forced marriage.
Estimates suggest over 8,000 British nationals are forced into marriage each year. Most of these victims are taken abroad. Those that refuse or flee can find themselves at risk of honour violence and abuse.
What’s the difference between a forced marriage and arranged marriage?
Some people confuse forced marriage with arranged marriage. The main difference is that both people in arranged marriage consent to it and can say no without any physical or emotional consequences.
If there’s any emotional pressure, psychological, physical or sexual abuse, the marriage is forced.
Forced marriage is illegal in the UK
Forcing someone to marry is illegal in England & Wales, it’s also illegal to:
- Take someone abroad to force them to marry
- Marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent
- Breach a Forced Marriage Protection Order
A person found guilty of the offence can face up to 7 years in prison, even if the marriage didn’t take place.
The person could also face charges for a range of offences because of the forced marriage including rape, violence, kidnapping, false imprisonment, theft and blackmail.
How the council can help
The council can provide advice and support to anybody who may be at risk of forced marriage, including help with taking out a Forced Marriage Protection Order or finding you a safe place to stay if you choose to flee your home.
If you are worried about asking for help, take a look at our myth buster
Services in Wandsworth
For free, confidential advice and legal support to people living with domestic violence and abuse, visit the One Stop Shop
Adult Social Services Access team: 020 8871 7707 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
If you suspect that a child may be at risk of early forced marriage, call Children’s Service's Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team – 020 8871 6622 or email@example.com
For advice and information call the Community Safety Division – 020 8871 6437.
Metropolitan Police: 101
Wandsworth Council After hours - 020 8871 6000
In emergencies, dial 999
If you would prefer to speak to an independent organisation:
Call the Honour Network Helpline, run by Karma Nirvana, a national charity set up by survivors of forced marriage, a specially trained advisor who understands the issues around honour abuse and forced marriage will provide you with independent, impartial and confidential advice.
They could also make a referral to the council on your behalf.
Honour Network Helpline: 0800 5999 247 (Monday-Friday 09:30-17:00) or visit www.karmanirvana.org.uk
You can also contact IKWRO who help Middle Eastern and Afghan women – 020 7920 6460 or visit www.ikwro.org.uk
Shanti Women’s Aid 020 8333 6000
Support and accommodation for Asian women and children
Forced Marriage Unit 020 7008 0151
Part of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Forced Marriage Unit can provide assistance to British nationals abroad who are at risk of forced marriage
Wandsworth Safety Net 020 7801 1777
An independent and confidential advocacy service for all victims of domestic abuse in the borough. The crime does not have to be reported and an incident does not have to have recently taken place to access the service.