What is forced marriage?
There is a difference between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In a forced marriage one or both of the participants enter the marriage without giving their consent. They go through with the wedding under duress of their families. In an arranged marriage however, both participants give their full consent and enter the marriage willingly.
Something to be aware of however- sometimes what starts off as an arranged marriage can escalate into a forced marriage. It isn’t uncommon for one or both of the participants to change their mind, but then on the wedding day their families force them to marry.
I am being forced into a marriage, what can I do?
If you’re unable to talk to your parents about the marriage, you should speak to another adult who you trust, perhaps a teacher or school nurse. It’s important to let someone know as quickly as possible so that you can be safe and get help. You are not alone, and there are people and organizations who can offer confidential help and guidance to help you escape a forced marriage and make your own decisions.
Your immediate safety is top priority. If anyone is threatening you with violence, you should contact the police immediately. The police will be able to assess your situation, advise you, refer you to support organizations if needed, and most importantly they will not tell your family that you have made contact with them.
Does culture, religion or tradition justify this abuse?
There is no scripture in any major religion which condones forced marriage. In British law it is illegal.
I don’t want to get married but have nowhere to go?
There are housing services which are available for victims of Forced Marriage and Honour Abuse. All of these environments are safe and you can receive emotional and practical help, such as access to counselling. If you wish, you can also be assisted in organising benefits and permanent housing. Being supported by these housing services will provide you with freedom, one of the most significant components in a happy and healthy life.
What happens if I’m abroad and realise that I’m being forced into a marriage?
You, or your trusted friend, should contact the nearest British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission. They will contact the FMU in the UK and arrange for assistance.
I think I might be forced into a marriage when I go abroad, what should I do?
If you are concerned that you will be forced into marriage when abroad, contact Karma Nirvana https://karmanirvana.org.uk/ Once you leave the country, it is much harder to get help. However, there are some steps you can take to improve your situation when abroad. Take the address and contact details of a trusted friend and of the High Commission/Embassy in the country you are visiting. You should also take some money, both in sterling and in the local currency, along with a spare mobile phone. Photocopy your passport and tickets before you leave.
For more information and support
All information in this article was taken from the Karma Nirvana website https://karmanirvana.org.uk/
For more information on Forced Marriage please also visit The Halo Project https://www.haloproject.org.uk/