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Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence and FGM

A forced marriage takes place when the bride, groom or both do not want to get married but are forced to by others.

People forced into marriage may be tricked into going abroad, physically threatened and/or emotionally blackmailed to do so. It can affect women and men, as well as girls and boys, from any community or background.

Forced marriage is wrong and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis. If someone is forcing a person to marry against their will in the UK or abroad they may be breaking the law.

The following information may be of use if this is happening to you or someone you know. In all cases try to obtain National Insurance numbers, passport numbers and, where relevant, details of travel dates and flight numbers. Leave these details with a trustworthy person if you can.

It should be noted that a forced marriage is different from an arranged marriage. An arranged marriage allows the parties to freely choose if they want to marry the person that has been selected for them by their family. There are no threats or intimidation associated with the tradition of an arranged marriage.

Getting help and support 

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Forced Marriage Unit London 0207 008 0151

Greater Manchester Police: 0161 872 5050
(This number should ONLY be called either at, or en-route, to Manchester Airport. It is NOT to be called for general advice or enquiries).

Forced marriage overseas

If you think that you or someone known to you is being taken out of the country for a forced marriage find out where the nearest embassy is and keep the phone number with you at all times. To do this contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit on 020 70880151

Airports UK and Overseas

Help and advice is available at airports in the UK. Try to make an airport official aware that either you or someone known to you is being taken out of the country against their will.

If you are at an airport overseas try to bring the situation to the attention of an airport official. It is of the utmost importance that this is done as soon as possible, prior to immigration/entry clearance.

N.B. Airport officials are becoming increasingly aware of forced marriage. Any intervention will be carried out with the greatest discretion.

Honour Based Violence    

Honour based violence (HBV) is a collection of practises, which are used to control behaviour within families to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour.

This type of violence can occur when the perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

This subject encompasses a variety of offences including murder, rape, assault, abduction and domestic abuse.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) defines HBV as: ‘A crime or incident, which has or may have been committed, to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community’.

Most victims of HBV are women or girls, although men may also be at risk. Men may be targeted either by the family of a woman who they are believed to have ‘dishonoured’, in which case both parties may be at risk, or by their own family if they are believed to be homosexual.

Common triggers for HBV include:

  • Refusing an arranged marriage
  • Having a relationship outside the approved group
  • Loss of virginity
  • Pregnancy
  • Spending time without the supervision of a family member
  • Reporting domestic violence
  • Attempting to divorce
  • Pushing for custody of children after divorce
  • Refusing to divorce when ordered to do so by family members

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

FGM is sometimes known as ‘female genital cutting’, ‘female circumcision’ or ‘sunna’.

Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse and a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women. It is dangerous and a criminal offence.

There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn't enhance fertility and it doesn't make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.

It is illegal to practice FGM in the UK; to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad or to aid others with FGM. The penalty for which is a fine and up to 14 years in prison.