Decrease in Forced Marriage Figures:
Unveiling the Hidden Reality
Forced and coercive marriage is a horrendous crime and, in the case of a victim under the age of 18, a form of child abuse,
Since the Covid 19 pandemic, girls have been able to report instances of forced marriage and potential forced marriage through traditional channels such as doctors, schools, and other agencies. This has contributed to a notable decrease in the recorded figures.
Freedom Charity is active in spreading awareness through schools and colleges. Freedom’s recently revised PSHE Association-approved lesson plans, accompanied by the powerful book “But It’s Not Fair” by Aneeta Prem, equip teachers to deliver these crucial lessons and to spot the early warning signs of forced and coercive marriage affecting those in their care.
Freedom Charity also trains social workers, educators, clinicians, dentists, police forces, border force staff and other front-line professionals, helping them to recognise and address forced and coercive marriage appropriately and effectively, thereby safeguarding potential victims.
Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) Statistics
According to the Forced Marriage Unit’s statistical data for the year 2022, they provided advice and support in a total of 302 cases related either to possible forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM). Among these cases, 297 were related to forced marriage, while 5 involved FGM. The unit also responded to 545 general enquiries, demonstrating the gravity and prevalence of these issues.
Demographics of Forced Marriage Cases Forced Marriage Figures
The FMU statistics, published on 20th June 2023, reveal significant insights into the range of victims of forced marriage. Of the cases in which the FMU provided support:
- 29% of cases involved victims aged 17 years and under. (Child abuse)
- 39% of cases involved victims aged from 18 to 25.
Mental Capacity Concerns:
19% of cases involved victims with mental capacity concerns.
78% of cases involved female victims, while 22% involved male victims.
Global Scope of Forced Marriage
Forced and coercive marriage is an issue not confined to a single country, religious persuasion, or traditional culture. In recent years the FMU has handled cases spanning all six continents. In 2022, the FMU encountered cases related to 25 focus countries apart from the UK. The countries with the highest number of cases in 2022 were:
Forced Marriage Figures by County
- Pakistan: 147 cases (49%)
- Bangladesh: 41 cases (14%)
- India: 20 cases (7%)
- Afghanistan: 9 cases (3%)
- Iraq: 7 cases (2%)
- Somalia: 5 cases (2%)
Forced Marriage within the UK
It is essential to acknowledge that forced and coercive marriages occur within the UK itself. In 2022, 8 cases lacked any overseas element, indicating that the potential or actual forced marriages took place entirely within this country. While this represents a decrease from the 11 cases recorded in 2021, it highlights the continued urgent need to combat this issue domestically.
Limitations of Reported Cases
It is important to note that the reported cases represent only a fraction of the true prevalence of forced and coercive marriage. Forced marriage remains a covert crime and these reported figures do not capture the full extent of this widespread abuse. Recognising this, the Home Office has commissioned a feasibility study by the University of Birmingham to provide more accurate estimations of forced marriage and FGM prevalence across England and Wales.
Efforts to Address Forced Marriage
The FMU has been actively involved in raising awareness and providing training to professionals. In recent years, their training workshops for police officers have transitioned to online platforms, supplemented by new workshops for social workers. The unit also conducts customised presentations for local authorities, NGOs, and other organisations. In 2022, the FMU trained 1,537 professionals in the UK,
Inclusive Education: Empowering Professionals to Tackle Forced Marriage in the UK
In the battle against forced marriage, it will be imperative to equip all professionals in the UK with the knowledge and tools to address this issue effectively. Freedom Charity recognises the vital importance of education and has been working diligently to provide comprehensive training to teachers, social workers, and front-line professionals.
PSHE Association Lesson Plans
Freedom Charity firmly believes that education plays a pivotal role in challenging and changing mindsets in the UK and preventing forced marriage. The Charity’s books, “But It’s Not Fair” and “Cut Flowers” which align with the newly revised PSHE Association lesson plans, highlight the need for fairness and the inclusion of all individuals. By integrating these essential materials into the curriculum, teachers can educate students about the unwelcome realities of forced marriage, thereby empowering them and their students to recognise the signs, seek help, and advocate for change.
Addressing Child Abuse
Forced and coercive marriage, in the case of an under 18-year-old, is a form of child abuse, inflicting lasting trauma and violating fundamental human rights. Not limited to those under 18 years of age, it remains crucial to shed light on this heinous crime and to emphasise that its practice is not limited to a specific country, religious persuasion or traditional culture. By treating forced marriage of those under the age 18 as child abuse, UK society can unite in combating this hidden crisis and protect the rights and well-being of vulnerable children.
Shedding Light on Hidden Crimes
Forced and coercive marriage often operates in secrecy, making it challenging for victims to come forward. Freedom Charity understands the gravity of this issue and works diligently to empower victims in the UK to speak up. By providing a safe space for reporting and support, Freedom Charity aims to uncover the true extent of forced marriage, ensuring that no child or young adult suffers in silence.
Freedom Charity recognises that empowering individuals requires a collective effort. The Charity actively collaborates with various stakeholders in the UK, including schools, social workers, and front-line professionals, to create a network of support and intervention. By working together, we can amplify our impact and break the cycle of forced and coercive marriage.
Freedom Charity offers practical support services to victims of forced marriage, providing them with a safe space to share their experiences and seek guidance. Freedom can provide emotional support, and helpful advice, and help victims access relevant resources and assistance.
As we navigate a post-COVID era in the UK, it is imperative to recognise that the decrease in reported forced marriage cases is just the beginning of addressing this pervasive issue. Freedom Charity continues in its tireless efforts to support those in need and spreads awareness through educational resources. By empowering professionals, integrating educational materials, and fostering collaboration, we can collectively work towards eradicating forced and coercive marriage and safeguarding the rights and futures of vulnerable children and young people. Together, let us take a stand against forced marriage and create a world where every individual is able to thrive and develop, free from this form of abuse.