‘Forced marriage’ is the act of using violence, threats or any other form of coercion to force another person to enter into a marriage. This has been a criminal offence in England, Wales & Scotland since 2014. In some instances of forced marriage, the coercion is obvious and the victim may be physically assaulted or kidnapped as part of the process. In others, the coercion may be less easily identifiable. Psychological coercion can be just as harmful as physical violence, but it’s often much harder to detect.
Who are the victims?
Forced marriage affects people of all ages and from all over the world: in 2012, the youngest reported victim was just two years old and the oldest was 71. Men and women from all walks of life could find themselves subjected to a forced marriage, regardless of their religion or background. However, the statistics show that those most likely to find themselves a victim of forced marriage are girls under the age of 18. This is why we concentrate on working with teachers.
Who are the perpetrators?
For the most part, the perpetrators are forced marriage are the very people that should be protecting these children – their family. Along with FGM, forced marriage is a form of “honour” based violence.
If someone is forced into marriage, what happens next?
Forced marriages are often rife with psychological, physical and sexual abuse – either at the hands of their new spouse or members of the extended family. Victims are usually trapped, cut off from their society and tightly controlled. It is unsurprising then that the rate of suicide amongst victims of forced marriage is thought to be considerably higher than average.