It is also breaking the law. You might think you’re going on a family holiday but then realise that plans have been made for you to get married. The Respondent must not harass, pester or molest the Applicant, directly or indirectly. Join our message boards and share your experiences and advice with other young people who might have similar worries to you. 5 Legal things you can do if you are facing forced marriage: Contact the Women Cell of the local police department of the city you are in, lodging a written complaint against your own parents for forcing you into a marriage for which you did not give your free consent without undue influence or force. If you, for example, are too afraid to return to your country of origin because your marriage has broken down. For more information on other legal costs see A Guide to Family Law Legal Aid. Why not Ask Sam! This guide is designed to provide general information only for the law in England and Wales. You can call our legal advice line or see a solicitor. This depends upon whether or not your marriage is legally recognised in the UK. If the court grants permission then the application can be made for a FMPO to protect the victim. In many cases where a woman has experienced a forced marriage in another country they are unable to return there because they would not be safe. You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry, or if you marry at all. For other support and protection that might be available see the list of emergency contacts at the end of this guide. Even if there is no FMPO, forced marriage is a criminal office. The most common way of ending a forced marriage that is legally recognised is annulment. It is a criminal offence for anyone to remove your child from the UK without your consent. If you do not wish to or do not feel you can attend court, you should ask your solicitor to request that you can give evidence from a different location. You can apply for a FMPO if you have been forced into a marriage or you believe you are being forced into a marriage. We have extensive experience in the field of forced marriage and honour based violence and have acted for individuals in countless sensitive cases over the years. If you are unsure whether you have or are being forced into a marriage, you can find more information here or contact one of the organisations listed at the end of this guide. Guidance published by the Ministry of Justice … If your husband threatens to take your children from you, or to stop you bringing your children with you, you must seek legal advice urgently. This is called a ‘without notice’ application. As your child’s mother you have parental responsibility for your child. Of course, this is not the case for all arranged marriages and some couples will enter into the marriage happily, safe in the trust that their family has reached an agreement that is suitable for them. If the court believes you are being harassed or put in fear of violence it can make a restraining order against the person(s) responsible. A Forced Marriage Protection Order can be filed without giving notice to the respondent, but of course, there are legal steps that must be taken to do this. 2. For example, an imam or a priest who is going to conduct the ceremony or wider family members who are acting in a harassing way, could be subject to a FMPO. More than 15 million girls under 18 are married each year, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. For more information, please see Seeking refuge: a handbook for asylum seeking women for further information. The maximum sentence is 5 years imprisonment. The courts can make orders to protect the victim and help remove them from the situation. You can contact a counsellor in private at any time and talk about anything. What does a victim of forced marriage look like?Forced marriage and arranged marriageForced marriage and domestic violenceProtection under the law in England and WalesForced Marriage Protection OrdersWhat are wardship proceedings?Social services applications for forced marriage protection ordersWhat if the FMPO is ignored or not followed by my perpetrators?The criminal offence of forced marriageHow can I end my marriage? You should also set out what you want the order to do and the persons you want the order to be made against. Forced marriage is against the law in the UK and you have a right to say no if you're being made to marry someone who you don’t want to. Arranged marriage involving adults who are freely consenting is legal and does not breach the law or breach legal rights. The police may choose to charge the perpetrator with one or more of these offences as well as, or instead of, the offence of forced marriage. Rights of Women does not accept responsibility for any reliance placed on the legal information contained in this guide. The key offence, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years if tried on indictment, is contained in s.121, which provides that a person commits an offence if they: But it’s important to remember that all major religions (Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Jewish) are against forced marriage. Who is affected by forced marriage? When a forced marriage occurs a number of human rights are breached. Sara Hossain. In an Arranged Marriage families take the lead in selecting a marriage partner but the couple have the free will and choice to accept or decline the arrangement. if you have faced physical pressure to marry e.g. If your parents or family don’t accept your decision and still make you go ahead with the marriage, this becomes a forced marriage. You may also be able to obtain an order of protection, annulment, legal separation, divorce, or a child custody order granting you custody of any children resulting from the forced marriage. Thanks for waiting. Childline is a service provided by NSPCC Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH. You might worry that if you tell someone then your parents or other people could get into trouble. Karma Nirvana has advice on how to protect yourself from the risk of a forced marriage or honour violence. The local authority do not need permission from the court but they are required to ascertain your wishes and feelings. Forced marriage is different to arranged marriage where families are involved in selecting a partner but it is up to the individuals  to decide whether or not to enter the marriage. You or your solicitor can start the application for a FMPO without telling your perpetrators. Forced marriage is a violation of human rights and is contrary to UK law, including the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 , which states that a marriage shall be voidable if: “either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence to duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise”. A marriage is a forced marriage if you have not been able to make any of those choices i.e. Want to keep your visits to Childline private? Some structures that are used in an arranged marriage may  also be used in  a forced marriage and this can often become confusing in distinguishing between them. 3. If you are married then your husband will also have parental responsibility for the child. New legislation introduced today (16 June) by the government is designed to help people in England and Wales. If you can't talk to your parents, maybe you can think of another adult who you trust, like a family member, teacher or school nurse. An order can be made against any persons in the UK or outside, who is, or has been, involved in the forced marriage in any way. As forced marriage often involves parents and other family members it can be difficult for you to make the application in your own name, it might not be safe or possible for you to do so. In some cultures, families might plan a holiday around the time of religious festivals. Do I have to get divorced?Do I have a right to financial support from my husband?What if my husband or other people threaten to take my children away?I am not a UK citizen what are my rights to stay in the UK if I want to leave a forced marriage?Support ServicesEmergency contactsOther useful contacts. What you need to know about forced marriage: You're not alone. I am concerned that someone close to me is being forced into a marriage, can I apply for a forced marriage protection order to protect this person? Chat ready: please press 'Go to chat' and your counsellor will be there. Protection under the law in England and Wales Forced marriage can involve a range of criminal offences and there is now a specific criminal offence of forced marriage. Abuse can also be financial and this can include taking your wages, or not giving you any or enough money. If you have experienced a violent crime you may be able to get criminal injuries compensation for more details see A guide to criminal injuries compensation. In an arranged marriage, people always have a choice about whether they get married or not, choose who you marry, when you marry or whether you want to get married or not. They can tell the Forced Marriage Unit who could help you return. ), It is also a criminal offence to deceive a victim with the intention of causing the victim to leave the United Kingdom; and intends the other person to be subject to coercion (force) for the purpose of making her enter into a marriage without consent (consent must be free and full.). If you want to login again, please click on the 'login' button. We're always here to help. What if my husband or other people threaten to take my children away? If the marriage took place abroad then you may need to take legal action depending upon whether the marriage is legally recognised in that country and in the UK. If you had a religious ceremony only then you may not need to take legal action to end your marriage, however, you may need legal advice on a range of other issues (see below). She was scared and didn't know what to do but managed to get help and find a safe place to stay. If you are not a UK dependent or a family member of an EU citizen there are other options. Yes, but they might not know until you get the order. I am not a UK citizen what are my rights to stay in the UK if I want to leave a forced marriage? The Government defines domestic violence as: “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. What does a victim of forced marriage look like? (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011came into force in November 2011. The issues around forced marriage are by no means new, but there has been a concerted effort to tackle this problem in the UK over recent years. If threats of violence are made against you or another person, or you have been detained against your will, or you believe entering the marriage is required because that is what your family expects, then you may not be able to refuse the marriage and therefore you do not have the freedom to make a choice. For people who are found guilty of these offences there are a range of sentences available to the courts including a fine, a suspended sentence, time in prison and community sentences, for example carrying out unpaid work. If you are uncertain whether you are being forced or have been forced into a marriage, you can find more information at www.gov.uk/forced-marriage . The application must be sent to them by a process server (a person whose job is to give documents to people) or the court bailiffs. If you know you are going to be taken out of the country you can contact Childline or the Forced Marriage Unit and explain what is happening. In the United Kingdom, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) assisted 1,220 individuals in relation to possible forced marriages in 2015. It's a legal document that can stop you being taken abroad and forced into marriage. ostracisation, being told they have brought shame on the family, and even being physically harmed. There are also a range of other criminal offences covering acts which often occur when someone is forced into a marriage, for example rape, assault, theft, kidnapping, blackmail and harassment. Based on the correlation between population and incidence of child marriage, they estimated that the actual number of child marriages in the U.S. during that time was closer to 248,000. This can be important if for religious or cultural reasons you do not want to get divorced. In some cases, the family members of European Union citizens can apply to retain their rights of residence. For more information about annulment speak to our legal advice line or a solicitor. Forced marriage can happen to anyone from any background, regardless of social class, financial status and sexuality; which include people who identify as lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender, or are perceived as such. Forced Marriage Protection Orders A Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is a A copy should also be sent to the Forced Marriage Unit and the police. It can also be  emotional and psychological, for example, being made to feel as if you are letting the family down, being told that you are a bad daughter, being told that you have gone against your cultural or religious expectations, or being made to feel that you are bringing shame on the family. 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. Depending on the different situations in each country, a social group may include all women, or could be considered to include women who are victims of forced marriage. Domestic violence, immigration law and “no recourse to public funds”. The injunction can also require the person named in the order to do certain things, for example, handover passports to the court or ensure a young person attends school. Fifteen county courts deal with applications and make orders to prevent forced marriages. Find out when it's legal for you to do certain things. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (‘the 2014 Act’) created the criminal offence of forced marriage. Your application will need to set out your knowledge of the circumstances of the victim’s situation and the court will also consider what the victim thinks about the application, if her wishes can be ascertained. The family court will then set a hearing at which your perpetrators will have the opportunity to defend the order or they can agree to let the order continue. For free, confidential, legal advice contact our advice lines, National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 200 0247, Forced Marriage Unit – 020 7008 0151- www.gov.uk/stop-forced-marriage, Amadudu Women’s Refuge, Liverpool – 01517340083  – apro1986@aol.com, Anah Project, Bradford – 01274884521 / 08459606011, Angelou Centre, Newcastle – 01912260394 – www.angelou-centre.org.uk, Apna Haq, Rotherham – 01709519211/2 – www.apna-haq.co.uk, Asha Projects, London – 02086960023 – www.ashaprojects.org.uk, Ashiana Network, London – 02085390427 – www.ashiana.org.uk, Ashiana Sheffield, Sheffield – 07985325293 – www.ashianasheffield.org, Asian Women’s Resource Centre, London – 02089616549 – asianwomencentre@aol.com, Black Association of Women Step Out, Cardiff – 02920644633 / 0789094063 – www.bawso.org.uk, Imece, London – 02032273592 – www.imece.org.uk, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, London – 02079206460 / 07862733511 – www.ikwro.org.uk, Jewish Women’s Aid, National – 02084458060 – www.jwa.org.uk, Kiran Project, London – 02085581986 – www.thekiranproject.org.uk, Latin American Women’s Aid, London – 02072750321 – www.lawadv.org.uk, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, London – 0207 336 0888 / 08442640682 – www.lawrs.org.uk, Newham Asian Women’s Project, London – 02084720528 – www.nawp.org, P.H.O.E.B.E Centre, Ipswich – 1473231566 – www.phoebecentre.org.uk, Panahghar, Coventry and Leicester – 02476228952 / 01162705320 – www.safehouse.org.uk, Roshni, Birmingham – 08707070098 – www.roshnibirmingham.org.uk, Saheli, Manchester – 01616367550/ 01619454187 – www.saheli.org.uk, Shakti Women’s Aid, Edinburgh – 01314752399 – www.shaktiedinburgh.co.uk, Southall Black Sisters, London – 02085710800 – www.southallblacksisters.org.uk, Tell us what you think of our legal information here, Contact us at: BME women’s organisations working around violence against women and girls have a wealth of expertise around dealing with issues such as forced marriage and domestic violence. To protect your privacy we'll log you out soon. This means that important decisions concerning a child can be made by the court and can ensure a child is protected when they are returned to the UK. This means giving the respondent a copy and it should be done using a process server or the court bailiff. Anyone threatened with forced marriage or forced to marry against their will can apply for Forced Marriage Protection Order. You may be able to get a court order to protect your child from abduction when you apply for the FMPO. You could contact someone who you trust in the UK who could tell your teacher or let the police know. If you are or think you might be a victim or survivor of forced marriage, this guide will set out what the law can do to help you. Speak to security staff at the airport if you're already at the airport or travelling. London, EC1Y 8RT. If your husband takes your child from you without your consent call the police and seek urgent legal advice. You will usually have to attend court, in certain situations you can give evidence from another location, so that you do not have to face your perpetrators at court. Forced marriage involves situations where you feel pressured to the point where you agree, but only because you feel you did not have the choice to say no, and you would not have consented had the pressure not been placed on you. This includes: 1. taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place) 2. marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not) The key distinction is that a forced marriage involves a lack of consent by one or both parties and where coercion or pressure may be a factor. The Forced Marriage Unit can help you get this. The Respondent must halt any arrangements for the wedding of the Applicant. This can range from emotional,  psychological and financial abuse to sexual and physical violence. You can also contact our legal advice line. If you are experiencing domestic abuse see A guide to domestic violence injunctions. You can also get legal protection from forced marriage in the civil courts. Your parents might even say that they'll disown you. What to do if you're being forced into marriage. Social services applications for forced marriage protection orders. In this article, Dr Bernard Andonian highlights the problems surrounding forced marriages and distinguishes them from customary arranged marriages. More than a year after a new law criminalising the practice, there has been just one prosecution for forced marriage, despite more than 1,200 potential cases being discovered every year. A new law in England and Wales making it a criminal offence to force people into marriage sends "a powerful message", campaigners say. For example, if you agree to marry someone but then change your mind and decide not to. For more information on the criminal justice process see Reporting an offence to the police: A guide to criminal investigations and From charge to trial: A guide to criminal proceedings. 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). Sometimes an arranged marriage can lead to a forced marriage. A forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is a type of injunction which can forbid your perpetrator from doing certain things such as being physically violent, contacting you directly or indirectly (by making someone else contact you), taking you out of the country, or making marriage arrangements. Workers are familiar with many of the concerns that women may have including fears for safety, feelings of general emotional distress, health issues, financial issues, as well as anxieties about the future. When one or more parties do not consent to the marriage or consent is obtained using … Forced marriage is against the law in the UK and you have a right to say no if you're being made to marry someone who you don’t want to. The law aims to make interfaith marriages null and void if, upon investigation, they have been found to involve forced conversion or harassment. For further information see our Guide to Financial Relief on Matrimonial Breakdown. The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), which leads on the government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework, gave advice or support related to a forced marriage in 1764 cases in 2018: children aged 15 and under made 18% of cases dealt with by the FMU in 2018, while a third of cases related to victims 18 and under. 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