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Forced marriage

Prevalence and service response

Published: July 2009

Aim

The study aimed to inform policy for new guidelines to support statutory responsibility for dealing with cases of forced marriage, to improve understanding of its prevalence and examine responses to cases.

What is a forced marriage?

A forced marriage is one conducted without the consent of both parties, and under duress.

Findings

How cases are reported

  • Cases were usually reported direct by young people or by friends to schools, colleges, youth agencies and voluntary sector organisations.
  • Direct reporting to the police was much less common.

Prevalence of forced marriage

  • There were between 5,000 and 8,000 reported cases of forced marriage in England (not including ‘hidden’ victims who have not come forward).
  • Over one-third (3%) related to marriages that had taken place.
  • Almost two-thirds related to threats of marriage (62%).
  • 97% were identified as Asian.
  • 96% of victims were female, and 4% were male.
  • 41% of victims were under the age of 18.

Service provision and response

  • Local authorities had different understandings of forced marriage and differing opinions on appropriate responses.
  • The quality and character of response depended on factors such as the extent of multi-agency data sharing, partner agency levels of awareness and resource capacity, whether the issue was taken seriously and with cultural sensitivity.
  • The black and minority ethnic voluntary sector performed a central role by providing capacity-building and staff training, by undertaking community development and prevention work with young people. This was usually done with limited resources and without local authority funding.
  • The full report looks at policy solutions for detection and prevention, better coordination and resourcing of services, improved case management and response.

Methodology

We carried out a literature review, a mapping study, a quantitative data sourcing and analysis exercise and qualitative case studies. 

Read the report