The Right to Choose – Forced Marriage Must End
Everyone has THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE not to marry at all or not to marry a particular person. Forced Marriage is a form of violence. It is a serious abuse of human rights. When the victim is a minor it is also child abuse.
A Forced Marriage is any marriage to which either party does not freely and genuinely consent. Each party to a marriage must have the capacity to be able to give informed consent. A person’s age, mental and physical health may prevent them from having the ability to give informed consent to marry.
A person does not freely enter into marriage if they enter it because of pressure. Pressure can come in a range of forms including; threats, physical violence, sexual violence, financial abuse, emotional and psychological abuse which could include the person being accused of dishonouring their family if they do not comply.
Forced Marriage is a significant problem in the UK. In 2012 the Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support in 1485 cases. However these figures do not represent the full picture because many cases go unreported.
A holistic approach is essential to ending Forced Marriage:
- Everyone needs to know that forced marriage is illegal and that it will not be tolerated.
- Potential victims and victims need to know their rights.
- Comprehensive support for victims and potential victims must be in place and people need to know how to access it.
- Family members and friends who are worried that someone is at risk of forced marriage need to know where they can turn to for advice.
- Potential perpetrators and perpetrators must know that they will face punishment if participating in forcing a person to marry.
- From the outset IKWRO has supported the criminalisation of Forced Marriage.
We support the good work of the Forced Marriage Unit however we believe that more must be done. We call on the government to:
- Run effective public awareness campaigns to ensure that everyone understands the problem, the law and where to find help.
- Include compulsory education about Forced Marriage in the national curriculum.
- Ensure that all relevant professionals including the police, teachers, health professionals, social workers and lawyers receive effective training about Forced Marriage during their professional training at the outset of their careers and regularly throughout their careers.
- Ensure that the organisations which provide support to victims and potential victims are properly funded.
- Ensure that the law is developed in a way that properly protects those who, due to their age, mental health or physical health do not have the capacity to give informed consent.