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Forced Marriage

Forced Marriage information

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. 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). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.

What is Honour Based Abuse and a Forced Marriage?

Honour based abuse is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims, which can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members.

Males can also be victims, sometimes as a consequence of their involvement in what is deemed to be an inappropriate relationship, if they are gay, or if they are believed to be supporting the victim.

Honour based abuse cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities, usually where a culture is heavily male dominated. Relatives, including females, may conspire, aid, abet or participate in honour based abuse, for what might seem a trivial transgression.

A forced marriage should not be confused with an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages often work very well. Forced marriages are where one or both people are 'forced' into a marriage that their families want, without the valid consent of both people, where physical pressure or emotional abuse is used. Victims are sometimes persuaded to return to their country of origin under false pretences.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders have been introduced to protect victims from being forced into marriage. An order can also be made to protect someone who has already been forced into marriage, to help remove them from the situation.

Those who fail to obey an order may be found in contempt of court and sent to prison for up to two years.


It should be remembered cultural acceptance in some nationalities, does not mean accepting unacceptable practices and traditions.


Forced Marriage Fact Sheet

Forced Marriage fact sheet - Click here to go to the fact sheet


Pan Bedfordshire FGM, Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse strategy

Please click here to see the Pan Bedfordshire FGM, Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse strategy


Where to Find Help

Police Emergency 999

Bedfordshire Police Honour Base Abuse Unit

Luton - 01582 474356


Forced Marriage Unit - Foreign & Commonwealth Office

(Mon – Fri, 9 - 5pm)

For those worried about being forced into marriage or those worried about a friend

020 7008 0151

Out of hours:

020 70081500

Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk

Website: www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage

The Forced Marriage Unit on the 21st October 2015 has released a new film demonstrating the devastating impact of forced marriage on victims and their families. The film aims to raise public awareness of the issue and warns of the criminal consequences of involvement.

Click here to view the film


Further Information and Support

Karma Nirvana is a UK registered Charity that supports victims and survivors of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse. It aims to raise public awareness on the issues, and provides education through accredited training, including seminars, conferences and workshops. It runs the National Honour Network Helpline where call handlers provide confidential listening support, options and guidance to all professionals, victims and survivors of honour based abuse.  Helpline: 0800 5999247 Website


MixTogether is a charity that supports mixed couples (mixed race/ religion/ caste) who face opposition from family or community to their relationship.
IKWRO - The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation provides advice and support to Middle Eastern women and girls living in the UK who are facing ‘honour’ based violence, domestic abuse, forced marriage or female genital mutilation.
National Domestic Violence Helpline – The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. Helpline: 0808 2000 247
EMAIL: helpline@womensaid.org.uk
Simrans Link - Simran’s Link is a community website to’ share views’ and link people in the situation of disownment. The specific connection to being disowned relates to the misplaced notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. They view ‘disownment’ in this context as an act of abuse against the human rights of an individual. This website is to support, befriend, and offer a positive community to people affected in this way.

Local posters

Bedfordshire Police have produced two posters on forced marriage
Bedfordshire Police logo
Poster one
Poster two

Local Support

Luton Women’s Aid

(Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

Refuge, outreach, drop-in, advice line

01582 391856

Luton All Women’s Centre

(Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

Support and services run by women for women

01582 416783

Bedford Refuge (24 hour line)

01234 353592

South Beds Refuge (24 hour line)

01582 664634

Bedfordshire Asian Women’s Refuge

01234 261228


Training -Suitable for all groups: Forced Marriage E-learning Tool

https://www.fgmelearning.co.uk/ (Home Office Site) – allows you to browse the site, access the e-learning tool and further information relating to forced marriage.

New Users

  • Step 1- New users will need to create an account to login and start using the learning tool.
  • Step 2 – New account - Users should complete all the required fields, remembering that usernames and passwords will be case sensitive.
  • Step 3 - An e-mail will be sent to the address you supply asking you to verify the account. You must click on the link to confirm your new account. This is your unique login and should be used when you login into the site to work through the learning modules.


Virtual College e-learning

This course has been developed with the Forced Marriage Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office. It aims to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and inform you of the correct actions to take should you suspect someone is at risk.

After completing this training you will be able to:

  • Recognise the warning signs of forced marriage
  • Take the right actions to help protect the potential victim
  • Co-operate effectively with other agencies


Click here to access the course.




May 2017 newsletter

Click here for our latest newsletter

Ofsted Inspection

The Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board (BBSCB) is judged to be 'Good' in a report published today by Ofsted. For more details of the report and a statement by Jenny Myers, Independent Chair of BBSCB can be found here