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Arranged and Forced Marriages: What's the difference?

By Shauna from Savera UK

As well as this time of year being wedding season, the summer holidays are also the time of year where forced marriages are prevalent. Often under the pretence of going on a family holiday, the young man or woman arrives to their destination to find that a marriage has been planned for them.

Forced marriage has been punishable by law since 2014 but Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPO) have been available since 2007 with 86 FMPOs being issued in its first year. An FMPO is a legal document that can stop victims being taken abroad and forced into marriage as well as to help bring them back to the UK if they are taken out of the country. It is so essential to recognise the risks of forced marriage.

Forced marriage is where one or both parties do not (or cannot due to vulnerabilities such as disability) consent to their marriage. Victims experience physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressures from family members or their communities to get married leading to issues surrounding honour based and domestic abuse. Parties involved feel like they cannot refuse and feel pressured to comply with the marriage. The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) stated that the largest proportion of cases (35%) involved 18-25 year old victims. Savera UK’s client base includes many forced marriage cases and it is important to identify the risks involved and also remember that forced marriages affect both men and women, gay or straight.

It is crucial to be able to know the difference between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. An arranged marriage is where both parties and their families consent to the marriage without the pressures associated with a forced marriage. Both parties are free to choose whether they get married and that is key. Arranged marriages can be very successful as both parties are happy to take part in the marriage. There are many stories of relationships thriving even after the marriage had been arranged by family members. However, the change comes where one or both of the parties feel the pressures associated with that of a forced marriage from refusing to consent.

There are many signs and indicators attributed to forced marriage victims such as a family history of forced marriage. For more information on how to spot these signs check the Savera UK website or sign up to our newsletter for dates of our Harmful Practices training or email info@saverauk.co.uk.


Please also contact us if you or someone you know is at risk of forced marriage.

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